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All rights reserved. The reproduction or utilisation of this work in any form or by any
electronic, mechanical, or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including
xerography, photocopying, and recording, and in any information storage and
retrieval system, is forbidden without the written permission of FIBA.

Published by the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) in collaboration with the

European Association of Basketball Coaches (EABC).

Boschetsrieder Str. 67
D-81379 Mnchen, Germany
P. O. Box 700607
D-81306 Mnchen, Germany

Jorge Juan, 82, 5. - 1. A
28009 Madrid, Spain

Written by Jose Mara Buceta, Maurizio Mondoni, Aleksandar Avakumovic and

Lszl Killik. Edited by Jose Mara Buceta.

2000, FIBA


Depsito Legal: M.

Printed in Madrid, Spain,

by Editorial DYKINSON, S. L.
Melndez Valds, 61
28015 Madrid, Spain
in collaboration with

This book was written following the guidelines of the working group
organised by FIBA with the purpose of developing the Young Coaches 2000
This working group was chairmaned by:
Patrick Baumann, Deputy Secretary General of FIBA.
Anton Mara Comas, President of the European Association of
Basketball Coaches.
Other members of the group were:
Aleksandar Avakumovic, President of the BAM Passerelle Movement.
Jose Mara Buceta, Secretary General of the European Association of
Basketball Coaches.
Maurizio Mondoni, Member of FIBA Mini-Basketball European
Lszl Killik, Member of the Executive Committee of the European
Association of Basketball Coaches.
Mr. Avakumovic, Dr. Buceta, Mr. Mondoni and Mr. Killik, experts in this
field, were assigned to write the book and Dr. Buceta to edit it.
FIBA would like to acknowledge the outstanding work of this group, and
thanks the following people and institutions who provided the photographs
for this book: Paloma Romero, Susana Fernndez, Germn Garca Casanova,
Antonio Paterna, Aleksandar Avakumovic, Carlos Sainz de Aja, Jose Mara
Buceta, Asociacin Espaola de Entrenadores de Baloncesto, Bulgarian
Basketball Federation, Club Estudiantes de Madrid, Club El Palo de Mlaga,
Colegio Virgen de Atocha de Madrid, Real Cano de Madrid, and Real
Madrid Club de Ftbol.
FIBA would also like to thank Mrs. Sheila Ingrisano and Miss Maika Zurita
for their efficient work on the English text, as well as Mr. Antonio Parrn for
his remarkable drawings, Miss Dolores del Pino for her valuable help, and
Editorial Dykinson for its careful attention to the editorial process of the book.
Finally, FIBA would like to acknowledge the excellent contribution to this
project of the European Association of Basketball Coaches.
As the twentieth century draws to a close, basketball can be seen to have
spread throughout the world, becoming one of the most practised sports
amongst boys and girls today. FIBA has 208 affiliated national federations,
which means that hundreds of thousands of players are dedicated to the prac-
tice of our sport. Many of these young people are children and teenagers for
whom basketball can be an excellent educational opportunity for their ath-
letic, personal and social development. Among other things, basketball
should serve to develop values that help make our future adults better citi-
zens, stimulating the peaceful and respectful coexistence of the people and
countries of the twenty-first century.

FIBA is aware of the enormous importance of basketball in the develop-

ment of young people and of the fundamental role of coaches within this con-
text, because it is the coaches who, by working daily with the players, must
make the experience of playing basketball a beneficial one. For this reason, in
collaboration with the European Association of Basketball Coaches, FIBA has
set up the Young Coaches 2000 programme for the training of coaches work-
ing with players from mini-basketball to the junior category at the age of eigh-
teen. The objective of this programme is for these coaches to understand and
assume their responsibility, learning concepts and strategies that allow them
to successfully develop this undertaking with the boys and girls who depend
so much upon them.

Within this framework, different experts, chosen by FIBA, have formed a

working group to elaborate this book. It is meant to be a powerful working
tool for any basketball coaches clinic held around the world under the name
of FIBA, Olympic Solidarity or a national federation. I hope that readers will
appreciate the contents presented herein and that they will use these appro-
priately to enrich their working methodology with young players.

Secretary General of FIBA
To teach is more difficult than to learn. We all know this, but we often for-
get it.

Why is teaching more difficult? Not only because a teacher needs to have
a far greater knowledge at all times, but also because teaching is essentially
a more difficult task: it means teaching how and what to learn.

The World Association of Basketball Coaches (WABC) is honoured to be

associated with this important step in the teaching of basketball coaching
to young players, part of a programme initiated by FIBA.

Coaches clinics are held every other day the world over. Too few of these,
however, concentrate on working with young basketball players. FIBA has
recognised that these players will be the future of basketball as it enters the
new millennium and has therefore decided to create this reference guide for
basketball coaches worldwide.

Although only a European project at the very beginning, it clearly appeared

that its value goes far beyond the geographical limits of Europe. This book
can now be used everywhere around the globe, at every coaches clinic held
under the auspices of FIBA.

We, the World Association of Basketball Coaches, as an officially recog-

nised body of FIBA, will use these guidelines as a reference in all of our world

We hope thar readers, coaches and players will welcome this initiative and
support FIBA, EABC and WABC in their efforts to spread this work through-
out the world.

The future is in our hands.

President of WABC
For the European Association of Basketball Coaches (EABC), the advanced
training of European coaches is an important priority. It is therefore a great
honour that FIBA has approved the Young Coaches 2000 programme for the
training of young coaches working with young players.

Coaches who work with young players cannot coach in the same way as
coaches working with professionals, but should develop their own working
style that takes into account the athletic and personal development of their
players. Thus, it is important that these coaches acquire knowledge specific
to working with children and adolescents.

The objective of the Young Coaches 2000 programme, and of this book, is
not to substitute existing training programmes for coaches developed by the
respective national federations, but to complement these. Thus, the pro-
gramme and the book are intended for people who are already certified
coaches in their countries and who therefore already have a broad under-
standing of the technical aspects of basketball. With this in mind, our aim is
that these coaches expand their resources by means of specific training cen-
tred on the work of young players, highlighting those methodological points
and contents that should predominate from mini-basketball to juniors.

This book is one more element of the Young Coaches 2000 programme,
complementing courses to be held in coming years in different countries.
However, it can be useful for any coach working with young players. The aim
of the book is not to cover every aspect of basketball but to serve as a guide-
line for coaches who work with children and adolescents including aspects
that the experts of the working group selected by FIBA consider most rele-
vant. I feel that this book will be a valuable working tool for any coach.


President of EABC

Jose Mara Buceta is a Doctor in Psychology from the

Complutense University of Madrid, Spain, and a Master of
Science from the University of Manchester, England. He is
an expert in the field of Sport Psychology and Health
Psychology as well as Professor of Psychology at UNED
University, Spain. He also has extensive experience as a bas-
ketball coach with lite young players, including the Cadet,
Junior and Senior Womens National Teams of Spain.

Maurizio Mondoni has a degree in Physical Education from

the Catholic University of Milan, Italy. He is Professor of
Theory and Methodology of Teaching and Training at the
School of Sport of the Italian Olympic Committee, and of
Theory and Methodology of Sport Games and Basketball at
the Catholic University of Milan. He has extensive experience
as a basketball coach of young players and is considered an
international expert in the field of Mini-Basketball.

Aleksandar Avakumovic is a lawyer and a basketball

coach with the highest degree from the University of
Belgrade, Yugoslavia. A former basketball player in
Yugoslavia, he is an expert working as a coach with young
girls and boys. He and his wife Biljana Markovic founded
the first private basketball school in Europe Basket Bam
for young players. He has developed the BAM Passerelle
Basketball Movement across Europe.

Lszl Killik has a degree as a teacher of Physical

Education from the Higher Institute of Physical Education
of Budapest, Hungary. He has extensive experience as a
basketball coach, including the Mens Junior National Team
and the Womens Senior National Team of Hungary, and
the National Teams of Egypt. He has worked at the Institute
for Scientific Research in Physical Education in Budapest
and has been responsible for the development of basketball
coaches in Hungary. He is a recognised expert in deve-
loping lite young players.




DEVELOPMENT OF YOUNGSTERS ............................................ 1

2. PLANNING BASKETBALL ACTIVITIES ..................................... 37

3. ORGANISING TRAINING SESSIONS .......................................... 83


5. COACHES BEHAVIOUR AT GAMES .......................................... 125

6. MINI-BASKETBALL ......................................................................... 149


8. COACHING 15-18 YEAR OLD PLAYERS ......................................... 265


EXERCISES ................................................................................................ 349

INDEX ........................................................................................................ 359


The Young Coaches 2000 programme was created by FIBA to promote

the training of young coaches who coach young players. This book was writ-
ten as part of the programme, its purpose being to provide useful guidelines
for coaches who work with boys or girls teams, from mini-basketball to
The book is made up of eight chapters and an appendix. The first five
chapters were written by Jose Mara Buceta. They cover methodological con-
tents and aspects specific to coaching young players of any age that coach-
es should take into account when working with these players. These aspects
make up an area of work specific to coaches working with young players,
different to that of a coach who works with professional teams. The main
objective of these chapters, and of the whole book, is precisely for coaches
who work with young players to accept that their task is different to that of
a professional coach, to understand what that task consists of and to master
specific concepts and strategies needed to carry out that task correctly.
As a starting point, Chapter 1 refers to the role of basketball in the edu-
cational development of youngsters, emphasising the importance that bas-
ketball can have in the athletic and human development of young players and
stressing the importance of the coach in this process. The chapter points out
how the practice of basketball, from mini-basketball to junior, can contribute
to enhancing the health of young players, to developing personal and social
values such as commitment, perseverance, responsibility, teamwork and
respect for rules and others, to developing psychological resources such as
self-confidence, self-concept, self-esteem and self-control, to providing the
players with positive experiences such as having fun, feeling competent and
receiving the appreciation of others and, of course, to the development of the
basketball skills of the young player. In order to achieve all of these objectives,
the coach must take advantage of the opportunities provided by practice ses-
sions and games along the lines explained throughout the chapter, adopting
a working style the principal characteristics of which are listed at the end.
Using Chapter 1 as a basis, Chapters 2, 3, 4 and 5 include specific strate-
gies that the coaches can apply in carrying out their work. Chapter 2 concen-

trates on planning the overall basketball activity when working with young
players. Chapters 3 and 4 refer to training sessions and Chapter 5 to basket-
ball games.
Chapter 2 attempts to guide coaches who work with young players con-
cerning the methodology they should adopt in planning their teams activi-
ties: how to organise the team, what working periods to bear in mind
throughout the season, the most appropriate goals, how to choose the most
important contents, aspects to take into account in order to correctly control
the physical and psychological workload of the activities, how to focus games
according to the age of the players, and how to schedule the activities.
From there, Chapter 3 centres on the organisation of training sessions, and
is divided into three sections. In the first, the principal characteristics of a
training session are explained: its stages, goals, contents and working rules.
In the second and longest, we discuss the principal characteristics that should
be included in the sessions drills in order for these to be more efficient. In the
third, some simple suggestions are offered for evaluating the training session.
The objective of this chapter is for the coach to learn how to make the best use
of available training time in order to obtain the maximum benefit from it.
Chapter 4 also centres on training sessions but in this case, on the coachs
behaviour in directing them.The aim of this chapter is for coaches to learn
psychological strategies that they can incorporate into their usual working
method in order for their players to achieve better performance and greater
satisfaction. After properly planning the activities (Chapter 2) and organis-
ing each training session correctly (Chapter 3), the coach should develop the
ability of conducting the training session as productively as possible, getting
his/her players to assimilate the contents of the session and thus obtain the
maximum benefit from their work.
The basketball activity of young players should not be limited to training
sessions but should also include games throughout the season. For this rea-
son, the coach must be prepared to manage games as beneficially as possible.
Chapter 5 refers specifically to the coachs behaviour before, during and after
games, including strategies for preparing the game, controlling the players
expectations of success, stimulating their concentration during game-time,
making efficient use of time-outs and half-time, and achieving maximum ben-
efit from the game as an educational experience.
To facilitate the study of these first five chapters, the book includes prac-
tical exercises and test exercises.
The practical exercises present situations characteristic of a basketball
coachs work, to which the reader should apply the contents of the book. The
purpose of this is that, in this way, the reader can better assimilate the knowl-
edge found in the book by reflecting actively in order to do the exercises.
The test exercises pose questions that the reader answers in order to check
how well he/she has assimilated the contents of each chapter. The appendix

includes the solutions to these questions along with explanatory comments.

Chapters 6, 7 and 8 include technical contents specific to each of the three
age groups into which the experts have decided to divide basketball for
young players: mini-basketball, 12 years and under (Chapter 6), passerelle,
13/14-year-olds (Chapter 7) and both 15-16 cadets/cadettes and 17-18 junior cat-
egories (Chapter 8).
The chapter dedicated to mini-basketball was written by Maurizio Mondoni.
The first part includes general guidelines for working with three age groups:
6/7-year-olds, 8/9-year-olds and 10/12-year-olds, and the basic characteristics
of the base-game, the starting point for a coach when teaching mini-basketball.
Next, the two central parts of the chapter include numerous drills intended for
the physical development of children who practise mini-basketball and for the
progressive development of basketball fundamentals. These drills were previ-
ously published in another FIBA book, From Mini-Basketball to Basketball,
written by the same author. The final section of the chapter includes orientative
plans for organising training sessions for mini-basketball teams.
Chapter 7 was prepared by Aleksandar Avakumovic. It includes a list of
methodological advices for working with 13/14-year-old players and twen-
ty- four training sessions as examples of the type of work that can be carried
out with players of this age group. For each session, this chapter specifies the
principal goal of the session, its total length, the drills to be used in the ses-
sion including diagrams to aid understanding, and remarks highlighting key
aspects for the coach to keep in mind.
Finally, Chapter 8 was written by Jose Mara Buceta and Lszl Killik. It
is made up of four sections centred on coaching 15/18-year-old players. The
first, very brief section, looks at the importance of considering the players
individual needs in order to improve their resources. The second section
explains the basketball fundamentals that should be given special attention
at this age, such as movements without the ball, offensive rebounding and
the mid/low posts back-to-the-basket play. The third section deals with the
development of tactical decision-making, including basic concepts and some
examples. The fourth section centres on building team play, including con-
cepts that young players should learn progressively. In many cases through-
out this chapter, a distinction is made between 15/16-year-olds (cadets) and
17/18-year-olds (juniors), specifying the particular characteristics of the
coachs work with each age group. And, as in the first five chapters of the
book, practical exercises are included to facilitate the study of the contents.
Overall, the book is an attempt to transmit a progressive working scheme
for young players. During the mini-basketball stage, it is suggested that glob-
al standardised work be carried out with all of the children to help their phys-
ical and psychological development, making this a satisfying experience which
will provide opportunities for the players to develop basketball fundamentals.
Later, with 13/14-year-olds, the work should continue to be predominantly

global and standardised, and at the same time, more detailed concerning the
development of the more basic fundamentals (passing, dribbling, etc.). During
this stage, multiple 1 on 1, 2 on 2, 3 on 3, 2 on 1, 3 on 2, etc. situations should
be practised in order to begin to develop the most basic tactical decisions, bear-
ing in mind the importance of strengthening the players self-confidence.
From the age of 15 onwards, work should be more analytical and individ-
ualised, taking into account what each player needs in order to continue pro-
gressing. At this stage, training time should be devoted to perfecting essential
details when performing basketball fundamentals. It is also important to work
more carefully on the development of tactical decision-making and to confront
progressive learning of team play, using more basic concepts with 15/16-year-
olds and more advanced ones with 17/18-year-olds.
This book is not a handbook that attempts to cover every aspect of bas-
ketball from the most elementary to the most complex, but rather a volume
intended for coaches who are already certified and who, therefore, have a tech-
nical understanding of the sport. With this in mind, the methodological ques-
tions which are considered the most relevant for working with young players
are explained, while looking more carefully at technical aspects that, although
very important, tend to receive less attention, emphasising the importance of
basketball fundamentals as well as specific training so that young players learn
to use these within the appropriate context.
Obviously, the purpose of the book is not to tell coaches exactly what they
have to do but to guide them by means of solidly based knowledge so that
each coach can then develop his/her own working methods.
With this aim, we have tried to keep the contents highly practical so that

Bulgarian participants in the FIBA Young Coaches 2000 programme.


coaches can apply them easily to their daily work. We have therefore includ-
ed photographs, tables, practical examples and diagrams to complement the
written text and to make it easier to understand. Some tables also include sim-
ple tools as examples to guide the coaches concerning the practical tools they
can incorporate into their work when planning, scheduling, recording and
In short, this is meant to be a book to be studied, not skimmed, intended
for coaches working with young players, both girls and boys. We hope that
it will be useful for everyone studying it.
The book was edited by Jose Mara Buceta, following the guidelines
drawn up by the working group chosen by FIBA for this project.
Jose Mara Buceta


Personal Responsibilities Within the Group
Team Work
Respecting the Rules
Respecting Others
Learning to Compete
Cognitive Development
Perception of Control
Self-Concept and Self-Esteem
13-14 Year-Olds
15-16 Year-Olds
17-18 Year-Olds

Children and teenagers who play mini-basketball or basketball may obtain

multiple benefits from this experience; however, they can also experience
problems that could do them harm. Basketball, like any other competitive
sport, is a valuable tool in the educational process of young girls and boys
but there are some requirements that must be taken into account, and it is the
responsibility of organizers, parents and coaches to make sure that such
requirements are met.
In this chapter, we will point out the purposes that basketball should have
as part of the educational process of the young players, stressing the impor-
tance of the coachs role within this process.


Coaches should not see their players as chessmen that they can move as
they please. The young players are not the coachs playthings. They are peo-
ple: children and teenagers who have their rights, and the coach that works
with these players should start by knowing, accepting and respecting such
Nowadays numerous youth sport organisations acknowledge the fol-
lowing rights for young players:

The right to participate in sports competitions.

The right to participate in competitions whose level is suitable to
the abilities of each child.
The right to have a qualified coach.
The right to play as a child or teenager and not as an adult.
The right to take part in the making of decisions about their
sports activity.
The right to practise their activity in a safe and healthy environment.
The right to receive appropriate preparation in order to be able
to compete.
The right to be treated with dignity.
The right to have fun while practising sports.



Health is one of the aspects in the growth of children that may be


enhanced through the practice of mini-basketball and basketball.

Proper practice of mini-basketball and basketball contributes to the
physical development of the players.
It can also contribute to developing the healthy habit of practising
It provides the opportunity of developing healthy habits related to the
practice of sports, which are basically: nutrition habits, hygiene habits
and self-care habits.

However, one should be aware of the possible health risks that could be
accentuated through the practice of basketball, in order to be able to prevent

Inadequate planning may interfere negatively in the physical develop-

ment of the players (for instance, a training strategy based on lifting
weights as a means of developing strength may be damaging for play-
ers of mini-basketball).
Inadequate planning may favour major or chronic injuries that in some
cases may affect the physical development of young players.
If the activity is very stressful or discouraging, it is very probable that
the players will give up the practice of basketball, thus failing to take
advantage of the benefits associated with this sport. Thus, it would also
be more unlikely that the players consolidate the habit of doing phys-
ical exercise.
In order to improve their per-
formance and control the pain
of their injuries, the players
could end up taking doping
substances, thus seriously
harming their health. This
behaviour could give rise to an
addiction to drugs, given the
high vulnerability of this
young age.

Therefore, playing basketball

alone, does not guarantee achieve-
ment of possible health advantages
that can be provided by the practice
of this sport. Only when done pro-
perly, guided by competent leaders
and most of all by competent coach-
es, do mini-basketball and basketball

bring about positive effects. However, a lack of control on the part of the coach
will increase the risk of negative results.


Basketball can contribute to the development of personal and social val-

ues that are very important in the educational process of the child and the

Young players should get used to accepting and carrying out their com-
mitments to others. A player must commit himself/herself to train certain
days and to play some games during the weekends, and this commitment
must be fulfilled even when the player, personally, does not feel like it. The
commitment implies that sometimes the player will have to give up certain
personal wishes and make certain sacrifices for the group. He/she will have
to think about others and not just about himself/herself. He/she will have to
develop the appropriate discipline that will enable him/her to carry out
his/her obligations.

* For example: an eleven-year-old player does not feel like

going to training and she does not go. Another of her mates does
not feel like going either but she respects her commitment to her
team and goes to training. Which of the two obtains more benefits
from mini-basketball as an educational experience?

Nowadays, one of the most widespread problems in some countries is that

of young people not carrying out their obligations because they behave fol-
lowing their personal short-term wishes. In this way, when they do not like
something, they give up even if it is unfinished; when something turns out
to be uncomfortable for them, they give it up; if something is too complex or
requires a continuous effort, they do not do it.
Withdrawal and lack of accomplishment of projects that imply difficulties
are two of the most serious effects of the lack of commitment. Mini-basket-
ball and basketball teams are an excellent educational opportunity for chil-
dren and teenagers to learn to accept and carry out obligations. This educa-
tion can be relevant for their future as adults.

In life, it is very important to be persistent and basketball can help devel-
op this quality: to be persistent, making the maximum effort.

* For example: John is a 14-year-old boy who gets enthusiastic

about many things but soon gives up his projects because he is not
persistent. On the other hand, his friend Nick, once he has started
something, does not give it up and he always exerts himself in
order to achieve his goals. Even when he is feeling down because
things do not turn out the way he expected, Nick is able to follow
through till he achieves his goal. Nick has played basketball since
he was 10 years old and has learned to accept his commitments and
to persevere.

The development of perseverance is especially important when the play-

ers go through hard times: if they make mistakes, play poorly, try things and
do not obtain the results they wanted, etc In their lives outside of sports,
they also encounter adverse situations in which it is hard to persevere but
basketball players can be prepared if this important aspect, perseverance, has
been developed.

It is obvious that basketball can contribute to the development of per-

severance if the coach working with young players rewards their continuous
efforts regardless of their achievements, especially when they are going through
hard times.

Personal Responsibilities within the Group

* A player has to defend 1 on 1 against an opponent. He must

take on his personal responsibility in order to carry out his task suc-
cessfully. The whole team relies on him. If the attacker succeeds in
scoring the whole team suffers; if he does not score, then everyone

It is very important that young people learn to take on personal respon-

sibilities for the benefit of the group. Basketball is an excellent school for
developing this aspect.
Coaches should teach their players to take on personal responsibilities
within the group as something reasonable that gives them pleasure and not as
a heavy load, avoiding comments such as you are responsible for our
defeat; we rely on you to win this game. In this way, the coach is carrying
out a relevant educational task that will be of great importance for the adult
future of his/her players.
For this reason it is important that the players know what they have to do

and what is expected from them individually. The players have to understand the
importance of their own contribution to the team. Equally important is the
coachs role in highlighting and reinforcing those lines of personal behaviour
that are significant to the group, especially those that socially are less notice-
able and are less emphasised.

* For example: in a team of boys between 15 and 16 years old,

the coach emphasises the importance of blocking out the rebound
in order to get hold of the ball, highlighting that it is a personal
responsibility (each player must take on his own responsibility of
blocking out an opponent) which will result in a favourable result
for the whole team (getting the ball). Some players will undertake
the task of blocking the rebound, allowing another teammate to
catch the ball, and usually the credit will go to this one player but
not to the others.
* The coach must reward those players who blocked out the
rebound successfully if he wants them to continue taking on per-
sonal responsibility for the benefit of the group. In this way, he will
help them to keep on behaving in that way and he will favour the
performance of his team, but even more important is that he will
contribute to developing this important aspect, accepting person-
al responsibility, in the personality of his players.

Practical Exercise
Make a list with specific tasks that, in the same way as
blocking out the rebound, can contribute to develop per-
sonal responsibilities for the benefit of the group.

Team Work
In relation to the above point, it is important for children and teenagers
to learn to work as a team. Is there a better place to develop this quality than
in a basketball team?

* The coach of a mini-basketball team organises a 2 on 2 drill.

The offensive players cannot dribble, all they can do is pass the ball.
They start at one of the base-lines and must cross to the other base-
line controlling the ball. Logically, in order to do that, they must col-
laborate with each other.

This drill, like others of the same kind, teaches children about the impor-
tance of collaboration and team work. The games themselves are also very use-
ful, because one player cannot win a game on his/her own. However, one does
not learn to collaborate just by playing basketball (in fact many basketball play-
ers have not learned to work as a team) and that is why it is so important for
the coach to highlight the importance of collaboration, and to organise the prac-
tice in a way that will encourage players to cooperate.
With this goal in mind, it would be very useful for the coach to keep track
of the efficiency of the team in carrying out tasks that require players to col-
laborate; for instance: he/she may keep a record of the fast-breaks made by
the team during the game.

Practical Exercise
Make a list of collective tasks the efficiency of which could
be registered in order to emphasise the importance of
team work.

Respecting the Rules

Obviously, playing on a basketball team means having to respect several
rules: internal duties, training rules and game rules. Thus, young people get
used to not being able to do exactly what they want, but having to respect
certain rules that foster their coexistence with others. This is one of the many
valuable educational aspects of basketball as a competitive sport.

Respecting Others
We have previously mentioned that basketball is perfect for learning how
to work as a team. Playing basketball is also a good way of learning to respect
others: mates, opponents, coaches, directors, spectators and referees.
Young players must learn to respect individual differences within their own
group, accepting and coexisting with teammates who, in some cases, may
belong to a different social group, race, religion, ethnic group, country, city,
etc and who may have different ideas and ways. They will have to respect
differences that come about while playing basketball, because some play bet-
ter than others, some master certain skills better than others, some play longer
than others, etc
The everyday situations experienced by a basketball team, encourage
players to become more respectful towards their teammates. They become
more sociable. In fact, it is very common in basketball to bring together peo-
ple that due to their differences may have been rivals in other contexts.
The coach should promote mutual respect and an attitude of solidarity
among the players of the team through his/her behaviour.
The coach himself/herself
must be a model, respecting
all players in spite of their
The coach must promote a
close relationship among all
the players, because the more
they know each other, the
stronger their respect for each

* For example: the

coach can encourage cer-
tain players to work
together during training or
seat them together on the

bus. He/she can also organise outside activities such as, for
instance, a visit to the zoo, a trip, etc

The coach must also emphasise those norms of behaviour that promote
respect and solidarity, eliminating those that promote the contrary.

* For example: the coach must reward those players who con-
tribute integrating in the group those teammates who are different
in some unfavourable way, and he/she must intervene when a
player underrates another because he/she is different.

With regard to opponents (players belonging to opposing teams), it is obvious

that the games offer the opportunity of fighting against another team in order to
attain the same goal (a goal that can only be attained by one of the teams) while
respecting the opponents as sportsmen and as people.
The coach must place special emphasis on his/her players being well-man-
nered towards their rivals: they should not insult them, they should help them
to their feet if they fall down, they should speak to them once the game is over,
congratulate them if they have won, etc The coach must teach his/her play-
ers that their opponents are boys or girls of their age, that they are also play-
ing mini-basketball or basketball, that they make efforts like them
and that sporting rivalry must be friendly and cooperative.
Under no circumstances should the coach working with young players
try to motivate his/her players by pitting them against their opponents, for
instance making comments such as: they have said we are a bunch of,
last time they won because they were playing dirty, they said that you are
an idiot, etc

This kind of strategy is unethical and it does not contribute to developing

values as important as respecting ones opponents.

A coach must not insult, ridicule or underrate an opponent team. On

the contrary, being a model for his/her players, he/she must show the
maximum respect towards any rival, regardless of his/her characteristics
and of his/her level as a player.

* For example: in a mini-basketball game, one of the teams is

superior to the other; in the third quarter the score is 35-2; the coach
of the winning team must show respect towards the other team,
avoiding comments that could be offensive.

Along the same lines, the coach must be a model in his/her behaviour
towards the referees, thus encouraging his/her players to learn to respect them.
This is probably one of the educational aspects less developed in young
basketball teams. For instance, it is often noticeable that coaches insult, under-
rate and ridicule referees, and that they blame defeats on referees decisions
in front of their young players. This example, together with similar ones set
by parents, makes it very difficult for children and teenagers to learn to
respect the figure of the referee.
If this is the education that we are offering our children, how are they
going to respect referees when they grow up? What kind of example will they
set for their own children? What are the consequences if this lack of respect
is transferred to other authority figures?
It is evident that the coach working with young players has enormous
responsibility in this area of the educational process, and living up to this
responsibility is essential if he/she wants to have a positive influence.

Learning to Compete
Life presents us with multiple competitive situations and we must be pre-
pared to confront them. Competitive basketball is an excellent opportunity
to learn to compete in a way that is both healthy and efficient, adopting a
working method that can be very valuable for young players in and out of
the sports life, and that can help them now and in the future.
All the values previously highlighted help young players to learn to com-
pete. It is also important that they learn to accept in the same way victories and
defeats, success and failure, good and bad performances, rights and wrongs.
For this reason, it is highly relevant to the teams of young players that they
confront different experiences during the season: winning, losing, playing
well, playing poorly, etc... and that these experiences be used to teach them

Test Exercise-1
Answer the following questions by choosing one of the
options, indicating to which degree you agree or disagree
with the statement. Comments are at the end of the book.
Totally Partially
agree agree
1. Practising a sport is always benefi-
cial to our health.
2. The injuries suffered by athletes are
a matter of luck.
3. Playing in a basketball team can
help players to develop healthy
4. Commitment is not good. Children
should practise sports only when
they please.
5. The coach must help players to
learn how to work as a team, accept-
ing their personal responsibilities.
6. It is important that players hate
their rivals: Rivals are only good
when dead.
7. If the referee makes an unfair deci-
sion, the coach must protest ener-
getically so that his/her players can
see that he/she is defending them.
8. When playing in a competition that
the players cannot win, it is better to
quit rather than fools out of them-
9. The coach must be a model, show-
ing respect and solidarity to all
his/her players, to the opponents
and to the referees.
10. Basketball can be a very valuable
learning experience for young play-

to confront victories with moderation, and defeats with hope.

Obviously, the players will be happier if they win than if they lose, show-
ing that, like good competitors, they have tried their best in order to win.
However, neither victory nor defeat should be highlighted by the coach. The
coach should congratulate his/her players for their effort, regardless of whether
they win or lose.

When the team has won, the coach must emphasise those actions that
were correct (not because of results, but because of the behaviour of the
players), and he/she must do the same when they have lost. Regardless of
whether the team wins or loses, the coach must set new goals for the future,
and use the experience to help players grow up.

Summing up, basketball can be a great school in which young players can
learn how to compromise, how to persevere in their efforts, how to go on being
persistent even when the situation is at its worst. Children and teenagers can
learn to take on personal responsibilities for the benefit of the group, to work
as a team, and to respect others. And furthermore, they must learn to accept
victories and defeats as parts of the growing up process, without allowing
these to stop them from pursuing the goals they have chosen.
Basketball is an excellent tool that coaches should know how to use for

the benefit of young players.



Apart from the values already mentioned, basketball can help young play-
ers, future adults, to acquire psychological resources that can be very useful,
not only in basketball but also to their lives in general. The development of
these resources can also be part of the growing up process of the children and
teenagers that practise this sport.

Cognitive Development
First, mini-basketball (for the youngest) and basketball pose multiple sit-
uations that oblige young players to develop certain cognitive capacities.
Basketball players (mini-basketball players included) must learn to pay
attention and to concentrate on different stimuli. Sometimes the stimulus is
a single one, sometimes they have to focus on more than one stimuli at the
same time, with more or less intensity, and for a longer or shorter amount of
time. And depending on the situation, the players have to learn to change,
increase, or decrease their attention at very precise moments. Not many activ-
ities provide children with this great opportunity of developing their atten-
tional skills.
Likewise, basketball may help players to develop their skills of selecting
and processing external information. From all the stimuli that they receive
from their environment, they must select only those that are relevant and that
can be associated with what they have already stored in their memory. And
they must learn to make quick decisions too.
These cognitive processes: selection, association, storage, use of stored
data, and decision-making can be developed better if the coach promotes
them by making suitable demands depending on playerscapacity.

* For instance: if the coach of a mini-basketball team sets up a

drill that demands from the players a great amount of attention
(several stimuli at the same time), that may result in an information
overload. This overload will complicate subsequent cognitive
processes, and that will derive in deficiencies to the decision mak-
ing process.

* Another example: if the coach of a team of girls between the

ages of 13 and 14 wants her players to learn several new concepts
at the same time, these concepts may not be associated and stored
properly. In doing so she will not achieve her learning goal, and the
cognitive efforts made by the players will not be worthwhile.

In the same way, if the stimuli offered by the coach are inadequate, this
will not stimulate the appropriate cognitive processes of the young players.

* For example: monotonous practices that include unexciting

drills, with contents that are too simple, without allowing the play-
ers to contribute with their own initiatives, do not lead to a better
cognitive development of children and teenagers.

Perception of Control
People need to feel like they are in control of the things that concern them:
that is, that they can work on them.
This notion of control is the founda-
tion of our self-confidence which con-
stitutes a decisive aspect of our psy-
chological strength.
On the opposite side of control is
helplessness. A helpless person feels
like he/she cannot work on the
things that concern him/her, and as
a result he/she comes to the con-
clusion that whatever he/she does,
nothing comes as a result of his/her
Cases of helplessness can be found
in many children and teenagers.
Helplessness prevents them from
believing in themselves, making
them suffer. Feeling helpless when
involved in an activity leads to dis-
couragement related to that activi-
ty and even undermines the self-
Therefore, when working with children and teenagers, whatever the field,
it is very important to develop this notion of control instead of allowing them
to feel helpless.
Lack of confidence, which is normal in children and teenagers, may be
relieved by setting up situations of control instead of increased through set-
ting up situations of helplessness.
Children and teenagers need to experience situations of control to believe

in themselves and become psychologically stronger. Basketball provides

many opportunities for this kind of situations, although if they are badly used
they can cause helplessness.

* For example: in a 1 on 1 drill the players can feel like they are
in control of the situation using those abilities that they already
master, or they may feel that they can control the situation by
improving certain aspects. However, they may also feel helpless
when they see that no matter what they do, they cannot control the
demands of the drill.

If a coach proposes a drill with an appropriate level of difficulty and if the

players know what they have to do, then the players will feel in control of the
drill. On the other hand, if the difficulty of the drill exceeds their possibilities,
they will feel helpless.
Unfortunately, many young players feel helpless because they cannot do
as much as it is expected from them, or because they have not been told exact-
ly what it is that they have to do.

* For example: Lszl is 13 years old and he plays on his school

team. In one of the games he made a shot and missed; his coach
told him from the bench: Lszl, do not shoot so soon, the ball
should move around a bit more. In another move, Lszl was free
close to the basket and instead of shooting he passed the ball to one
of his mates, and that time the coach shouted: Lszl, shoot!. On
a third occasion, the same thing happened but this time Lszl shot
and unfortunately he failed again. His coach criticised him once
more: Lszl, how could you miss?, If you have no intention of
scoring you should not shoot!.
* Lszl felt helpless, because he did not know how to react; he
probably felt that it was impossible to do it right and please his
coach. From that moment on he held himself back as much as he
could and made only those decisions that implied fewer risks and
where mistakes would be less noticeable.

Measures to Improve Control

All coaches, and especially those who instruct young players, must help
their players to feel like they are in control rather than to feel helpless. With
this in mind, they should consider measures such as the following:

Coaches should train players to increase their basketball skills, so that they
will have more resources to control the requirements of basketball.
Coaches should establish attainable goals based on the level of their play-
Coaches should introduce drills that their players can control.
They should explain to their players what they are supposed to do, what
their tasks are, and require that they perform only the assigned tasks.
The players should play games against rivals whose level is similar to
theirs, so that they confront situations that they feel they can control.
Even if the team has to play different kinds of games, against rivals that
are superior or inferior to them, the coach should make sure that there
are enough games in which players can control the demands.
Coaches should highlight the players actions rather than the results they
obtain. When certain results stand out or need to be highlighted, they
should be related to specific actions. By doing this, the coach will
encourage in his/her players the capacity to see the relation between their
actions and the results obtained, thus
reinforcing their perception of con-

* For example: the team has won

a game and the players are
all very happy with this result.
The coach should take advantage
of this opportunity to relate the
result obtained with the specific
actions on the part of the players
that could be repeated. In this
way, the players will understand
that they have the resources to
control the demands of the game
and thus obtain the results they
It is also important for the coach
to continuously emphasise efforts
made by the players in order to
obtain results. Therefore, if the
actions that are highlighted are
those that mainly require a
remarkable effort (running, block-
ing out the rebound, anticipating
or helping in defense, etc) it

would be enough to relate them

to the results obtained. However,
if the actions to be highlighted
are those that mainly require
accuracy (passing, dribbling,
shooting, etc) then, the coach
should focus on efforts made to
master those skills and to obtain
the results:

* For example: we have won this game (result) thanks to our

defense moves (actions that mainly require an effort and that must
be specified) and to the scores that we have obtained when playing
1 on 1(accuracy skills). You have improved enormously on the 1 on
1. You have made a great effort during practices. When we do the
drills you are very concentrated on what you are doing. You all
work very hard (the coach focuses on the efforts that go into the
mastering of accuracy skills) and this work makes it possible for
you to make so many points when playing 1 on 1.

The coach must appreciate the players decisions based on the circum-
stances that are present at the time when the decisions are being taken,
and not based on the results.

* For example: a player is free close to the basket, and she has
been told by her coach that this is a good opportunity to shoot. If
the player decides to shoot, the coach should evaluate this decision
in a positive way regardless of the result; that is, even if she does
not score that time. This way, the player will feel in control of this
situation and will know what to do on future occasions.

In the educational development of children and teenagers who play mini-

basketball or basketball, developing their perception of control is of great impor-
tance. The players should understand that they can learn to control the things
that concern them if they work on it. Developing this aspect is very impor-
tant for young people, since they will feel more secure and more competent
in any field of their lives.

Experiencing situations of control stimulates the players performance

and is very rewarding. If basketball continues providing them with this
kind of experience, it is more probable that the children continue practis-

ing this sport.

P r a c t i c a l
Make a list of the
things that you,
as a coach, can
do to develop
the perception of
control in your

Self-confidence is closely relat-
ed to the perception of control. Self-confidence is the trust that the players
have in their own resources to be able to achieve a certain goal.
However, self-confidence does not mean that one has to be confident just
because, or because that is how one should be. The issue is not to make
comments like we are going to win for sure, we are a bunch of winners,
or we cannot even think of losing, or pretend that one is sure of the victory
by saying things like: come on kids, we will recover in the second round.
Being confident is an inner process that implies having a real sense of
both the difficulties of the result we want to achieve, and of our own resources
to achieve it. Keeping all this in mind, one should base his/her confidence on
the real chances that exist of obtaining the desired results.
Therefore, a player with self- confidence, in contrast to one that does
not have it, knows approximately what his/her chances are, and what actions
he/she must perform to make those possibilities come true. He/she also
k n o w s
the difficulties that could prevent him/her from achieving the desired objec-
tive, and the actions that, in such cases, he/she should perform in order to
neutralise those difficulties.
Self-confidence grows if the player feels that he/she is efficient when con-
trolling the demands of practices and games.
Developing the self-confidence of the young players is very important for

their education as basketball players and as future adults.

As a player, because self-confidence is the key to their progress.

It will enable them to satisfactorily face the most stressful situa-
tions during games, and to keep on playing with the hope of
achieving ambitious goals.
As a person, because to be confident in ourselves helps us to face
life with all its demands, and contributes to improving our self-
concept and our self-esteem.

General and Specific Self-Confidence

A persons self-confidence is not the same in every aspect of his/her life;
for example, a boy may have more confidence while playing basketball than
while studying mathematics. However, by reinforcing ones self-confidence
in a relevant aspect of ones life (for example, basketball) this self-confidence
may spread to other areas through the development of an objective way of func-
tioning that includes the following elements:

The realistic analysis of both the situations that need to be faced,

and the persons own resources to do so.
Setting realistic goals and realistic plans to achieve those goals.
This will lead to adequate expectations of ones performance.
Emphasis and control of ones own behaviour, above all those
things that do not depend on ones own actions.
The objective and constructive evaluation of ones own experi-
ences, thus controlling both success and failure to strengthen self-

We could make a distinction between specific self-confidence that works in

specific situations, and more general self-confidence that would show the level of
confidence in ones own resources in any situation, known or unknown.
Good management of the practice of sports can help to improve the self-
confidence that is specifically related to sports, so that athletes believe in their
own resources when having to face the demands of practices and games.
Moreover, sports can contribute to developing an objective way of doing
things that may not only help players to strengthen their specific self-confi-
dence, but also stimulates their self-confidence in other areas of performance.

Thus, through the practice of bas-

ketball, young players can strength-
en a psychological resource of great
importance for
the development of children and
This matter is of special importance
if we take into consideration that
often children and teenagers have
little confidence in themselves to
confront challenges. These girls and
boys, can improve their self-confi-
dence and become psychologically
stronger, thanks to basketball.

Controlled Success
Failure and
In order to improve the self-confidence of children and teenagers, bas-
ketball should provide situations of control (see above). Good results as well
as bad ones (that is, achieving or not achieving the established goals) may
contribute to the perception of control if the activities are adequately pre-
sented and conducted.

Controlled Success may take place whenever good results are

obtained (when players accomplish their goals) and players asso-
ciate those results with their own controlled resources.

On the other hand, Controlled Failure takes place when the

results are not the ones players wanted to obtain (they do not
accomplish their goals) but the players still feel that they have
controlled the process in trying to attain those results. In this
case, they will learn from their experience of failure and they will
apply this knowledge to future games.

The experiences of controlled success constitute the achievement of

goals that were previously set thanks to players own contribution, produc-
ing balance between previous expectations and accomplishments that will
strengthen players self-confidence.
The experiences of controlled failure contribute to developing tolerance
to frustration and the capacity to react and persevere when confronting
adverse situations. In these cases, subsequent success will help players to

learn to believe in themselves when they do not obtain the desired results and
must continue to seek future results.
In consequence, alternating controlled success with controlled failure
seems to be the most appropriate thing to do during the process of develop-
ing the self-confidence of the young players (that is, they should experience
both), although it would be better for players to experience more success than
failure, and also, that failure not be too far from the desired goal (in other
words, even if they do not achieve their goal, players should be as close as
possible to it).
To sum up, the procedure to obtain controlled success and controlled fail-
ure to improve self-confidence, should include the following features:

Organise adequate competitive activities both in practices and in

games (for example: competitive games that present attainable
challenges, games against teams of a similar level).
Set appealing goals that are also realistic, based on players per-
formance (their own actions) and not on the results obtained on
the game.
Elaborate plans that are adequate for achieving the goals that
have been set, focusing on players own personal efforts to
achieve the goals.
Use the correct criteria (criteria that is understood by the play-
ers) when deciding if the goals set have been attained or not.
Analyse performance in an objective and constructive way, based
on the criteria previously agreed upon.
Do not judge the performance of the players according to results
that can be due to other factors.
Coaches should not reach general conclusions based on isolated
experiences that have impressed them (for example: they should
not arrive to the conclusion that the team has played poorly just
because the game was lost in the last play).
Avoid judging the players performance when the emotions are
intense (for example: at the end of a game in which both teams
ended up with very close scores).
As we can see, the way in which the performance of the players is eval-
uated constitutes a crucial element in the development and strengthening of
A general evaluation, that is
ambiguous and arbitrary, based on criteria that are not known or are unclear,
will have negative results. If the criteria used to evaluate do not correspond to
the goals previously agreed upon, it will be very difficult to establish the pre-
cise relation between actions and outcome. This would create a damaging state
of helplessness instead of perception of control that contributes to strengthen
the self- confidence.

Self-Concept and Self-

Self-concept refers to the opinion
that a person has of himself/-
herself; and self-esteem shows the
extent to which that person likes
that opinion.
In both cases, it is a global evalua-
tion that is not specifically related to
any activity in particular, but linked
to the data that each person has
processed about himself/herself,
with those aspects that each person
considers more significant in
his/her life the most important.
With regard to children and teenagers, self-concept and self-esteem are
very unstable values that fluctuate easily. Sometimes, self-concept and self-
esteem change depending on their experiencing success or failure in certain
aspects that for them are very important, for example basketball. In fact, the
global evaluations that many young players make of themselves often depend
on these experiences. Therefore, basketball experiences may affect young players
self-concept and self-esteem.
In order to better understand the relevance of this issue, we will differen-
tiate between three groups of young players, according to their level of self-
concept and self-esteem.
In this first group are those players with adequate self-concept and self-
esteem that do not depend upon their success in sports.
In these cases, the situation should be maintained, strengthening the play-
ers self-confidence and preventing them from associating their success in
sports with their worth as people.

Nevertheless, coaches should pay special attention to those teenagers

(from the age of 13) in whose lives basketball plays a major role (especially
outstanding players who play in more important teams). In cases like these,
it is possible that other sources of gratification, outside of basketball, may dis-
appear, and many young players will be unable to put basketball into per-
spective and controlling success or failure correctly.
These players become especially vulnerable when associating their self -
concept and self-esteem with their success or failure in sports. Under these
conditions, basketball will turn out to be a very stressful activity that may
harm the performance, health and development of these young people.

Test Exercise-2
Answer the following questions by choosing one of the
options, indicating to which degree you agree or disagree
with the statement. Comments are at the end of the book.
Totally Partially
agree agree
1. The coach can not do anything to
improve the psychological resources
of his/her players.
2. Introducing adequate training drills
may contribute positively to the cog-
nitive development of young players.
3. Monotonous practices are the most
appropriate for developing the atten-
tional skills of the players.
4. In order to develop a notion of control
in young players, it is advisable for the
coach to associate the results obtained
with the actions of his/her players.
5. Controlled Success situations are
those in which the players succeed
just in those games in which they
wanted to succeed.
6. Controlled Failure situations may
help improve Self-confidence.
7. The coach who carefully explains to
his/her players what they have to do
helps to develop the perception of
control in his/her players.
8. The coach who sets challenges that
his/her players can attain, stimulates
players self-confidence.
9. Self-concept and self-esteem should
depend on success in sports,
because young players will be more
10. The coachs comments to his/her
young players may have a great
influence on both their self-concept
and their self-esteem.

* For example: Karl is 15 years old, and he has just joined the
cadet team of a big club. Now, all he cares about is succeeding as a
player. If he does not, he will feel like a failure. Karl is demanding
a lot of himself and he is under a lot of pressure. Any negative com-
ment from his coach affects him a great deal. His mistakes both dur-
ing practice and games affect him enormously. In general he suffers
a lot, and he does not enjoy himself anymore. Each game is to him
a distressing test to prove himself. Karl is not playing as well as he
can, and things are getting worse. Lately he has had two injuries
that have prevented him from playing in several games. He is feel-
ing very depressed and is considering quitting.

This case illustrates the experience of many adolescents who play bas-
ketball. They end up identifying their self-concept and self-esteem with their suc-
cess or failure as athletes, and that can be extremely harmful.
The young players belonging to the second group are in a similar situa-
tion to the ones mentioned above. Their self-concept and self-esteem are char-
acteristic of their age, but they depend too much on their success as athletes.
This situation makes them weak, and it is very probable that when going
through hard times in their sports career they will suffer low points in their
self-concept and self-esteem that will affect them negatively.
Furthermore, in cases like Karls, the risk of this happening turns prac-
tices and games into even more stressfull experiences, because young play-
ers are not only risking their performance as players, they are also risking
their self-concept and their self-esteem.
In these cases coaches should try to approach the situation by clearly dif-
ferentiating the sports success from
the personal evaluation that the
player may make of himself/her-
self. In order to do this coaches
should act in two ways:

On the one hand, high-

lighting those aspects in
the life of the player,
apart from basketball,
that deserve notice.
On the other hand,
encouraging the play-
ers perception of con-

trol over sports experiences in order to strengthen their self -con-

fidence, preventing them from perceiving uncontrolled failure
that could provoke a serious crisis to their self-concept and self-

The third group is made up of those young players with weak self-con-
cept and self-esteem who could use the experience of basketball to mitigate
the problem.

In these cases, basketball can contribute to improving the self-confi-

dence of these young players, (see the previous section on self-confidence)
and thus their self-concept and self-esteem, although these two should not be
associated to their success as basketball players, but to their efforts and their
control of the situation in order to achieve such success.

The Influence of Coaches

The relationship between coaches and young players may have a decisive
influence on the players self-concept and self-esteem. Thus, the coachs
behaviour in relation to players is crucial.

* For example: a coach may have a negative influence if he/she

insults his/her players (are you an idiot?); if he/she underrates
them (are you making a fool of yourself as usual?); making fun
of them in front of their teammates (kid, the basket isnt across the
street!); scolding them without an explanation or without giving
them the opportunity to rectify in the future (you never get it
right!, you make nothing but mistakes!); or using expressions that
could compare their worth as athletes to their worth as people
(you cant do anything right!, youre a mess!).
However, coaches have a positive influence by avoiding such behaviour,
and applying the following strategies instead:

Defining with clarity

and precision the goals
that the players must
Helping players to
achieve such goals and
reinforcing them for
their good actions.
Differentiating actions
that have to do with
players athletic perfor-
mance by referring to
them specifically.
Correcting players con-
structively, pointing out
what they do wrong
while making them
understand where they
make mistakes, and
providing them with the opportunity to rectify.

For a basketball player it is very important to develop self-control: being
able to control his/her impulsiveness and in general his/her actions in order
to be prepared and give the best performance.
Basketball provides many situations in which the players must learn to
control themselves. Let us think for instance about the adverse decision taken
by a referee, about a mistake that must be corrected promptly, about the
wrong actions of a teammate, or when a player goes to the bench.

* Helena is 11 years old and she loves mini-basketball. She is

on one of her schools teams. She trains two days during the week
and plays on Saturdays. Helena is very involved and tries to do her
best. That is why she wants her teammates to take it as seriously as
she does. On several occasions, when a teammate has made a mis-
take she has got mad at her and has scolded her aggressively.
Her coach has explained to her that she should not behave in
that way, and Helena has made an effort to control herself. Now,
every time one of her mates makes a mistake, instead of scolding
them she either cheers them up or simply ignores them. She con-
centrates more on what she has to do. Her mother has said that she
also seems less impulsive in other ways.

* Mario also plays mini-basketball. One day he complained to a

referee because he had pointed out a personal foul that, according to
Mario, did not exist. His coach did not allow him to play on the next
game, explaining to Mario that his lack of self-control was the reason
for this punishment. Since then Mario is capable of controlling him-

These examples show the opportunities that mini-basketball and basket-

ball provide to young players to learn to control themselves.
As in these cases, the opportunities must be properly used in order to prof-
it from them, and for this purpose, the role played by the coach is of great rel-
evance. In these examples, the coaches of Helena and Mario have made very
good use of the opportunities, but in similar cases many coaches waste them.
The coach working with young players must be always alert in order to take
advantage of those opportunities that might be of use in helping his/her
players to improve their ability to control themselves.

Practical Exercise
Think about your team for ten minutes, and make a list of
all those opportunities that you could use to help your
players improve their self-control.


We have previously seen that

basketball provides excellent oppor-
tunities to improve personal and
social values and to enrich the psy-
chological resources of young play-
ers. Likewise, because it provides
players with positive experiences on
a daily basis, basketball may be a
very rewarding experience.
Positive rewarding experiences
are important for everyone. In the
case of children and teenagers, bas-
ketball may be one of the sources
that provide them with more posi-
tive experiences. If the positive
experiences surpass the negative
ones, then it will be more likely that
players keep on playing and obtain-
ing more benefits from the practice
of sports.
Positive experiences should
occur every day through aspects
such as the following:

skills mastery;
achievement of appealing goals;
social recognition from coaches and teammates;
rewarding inner experiences (positive feelings, personal satis-
faction, pride);
feeling social support from coaches and teammates.



Logically, one of the aims of the

teams of young players is the ath-
letic development of the players so
that they eventually can become
good lite basketball players.
However, this goal must be
placed within the scope of overall
development (not only athletic) as
described in this chapter.

First, because the great majo-

rity of young players of mini-
basketball and basketball do
not become lite basketball
players. They can, neverthe-
less, benefit themselves as peo-
ple while playing this sport
for a longer or shorter amount
of time. In this way, basketball
contributes to a better society,
with men and women who are better prepare to confront life with effi-
ciency, with health and with a more tolerant and cooperative spirit.
Second, because mini-basketball and basketball for young players must
try to educate future coaches, referees, leaders, parents, sports journal-
ists, experts in the sports sciences, spectators, etc In the future, if all
of them or at least the majority have been players of mini-basketball or
basketball, and if their experiences have been positive ones, it is clear
that basketball will benefit from it, and in that way we will be assured
of having future generations of people associated with sport who are
better educated.

Third, because if we follow a work plan that stimulates players devel-

opment physically, technically and psychologically, there would be
more players who could become lite basketball players. By treating
young players correctly while they are learning, we would avoid los-
ing players whose level of performance could reach very high stan-

Fourth, because those who become lite players, should not be sur-
vivors who have made it after all, but players who are better pre-
pared in every aspect, thus raising the human and athletic level of those
working in professional basketball.

In general, it is important not to hurry things, letting young players fol-

low their own path, channelling their sports formation progressively.

Mini-Basketball Players
Coaches must understand that some children improve faster than others,
and should try to adapt themselves to this circumstance, treating each child
like a tailor who is sewing tailor made suits.
Coaches must follow a general working plan with all the children of their
teams, but they must respect the individuality of each player; that is, making
demands according to their characteristics, and helping each of them to devel-
op their own talents.
At these ages, perfecting basketball fundamentals is not very important.
It is enough for the players to know the most basic and to start mastering
Players should feel the need to satisfy the demands which appear when
playing the game. They must develop the initiative of using basketball fun-
damentals even if they make mis-
takes. And they should have a rea-
sonable number of positive
experiences that will make them
want to keep on playing.
Daily fun and the personal ini-
tiative of players are very important
aspects to take into account when
coaching mini-basketball.

13-14 Year-Olds
The coach of players of ages
between 13 and 14 must realise that
even if some of the players appear
to be physically bigger, they are still
young teenagers.
At this age they are going
through a stage of great emotional
vulnerability in which they need to
vindicate themselves (for example:
they would be inclined to abandon
if they feel like they are not in con-
trol). Furthermore, many of these players are getting used to playing basket-
ball after having practised mini-basketball, which might make them feel inse-
cure and less competent than in previous years.
Coaches of these players must help them to adapt themselves progressi-
vely to this higher level of requirements. Coaches must go into more depth
concerning the development of technical fundamentals and individual tacti-
cal decisions (the decisions taken on the 1 on 1, 2 on 2, 3 on 3, etc.).
However, they should try not to go too fast, because the players need to
assimilate what they are learning, and they need to feel safe obtaining the
reward of being in control.
At these ages, it is important not to limit the players. On the contrary,
coaches should improve the possibilities of obtaining better results in the
future by allowing players to do any kind of task (for example: they should
all be able to fastbreak in any position).
The players will probably make many mistakes when doing things that
they do not master, but the coach must try his/her best and combine those
demands that they are weaker at with those that they already master so that
they can get some satisfaction out of it.
While working with children of these ages, coaches must set up multiple
situations that players can control and that will improve their self-confidence.

15-16 Year-Olds
When working
with teams of 15-
16 year-olds coach-
es should maintain
an overall perspec-
tive of the forma-
tive process of the
players, but they
should measure
with a greater
detail the particu-
lar needs of each
player: what is
he/she missing?
what aspects
should we work on
to improve his/her
At these ages,

35 Test Exercise-3
Based on the information provided in this chapter, answer
whether the following questions are True or False. The
correct answers are at the end of the book.

True False
1. The attainment of attractive challenges is a positive
experience that must predominate in the activities of
young players.
2. The players must know how to control themselves; if
they do not succeed this time they will later.
3. Having fun is a positive experience that must be taken
into account only for mini-basketball teams.
4. Young players must specialise as soon as possible in
order to become part of the lite.
5. The coach working with young players must imitate
those coaches who coach professional teams, because
they are the best coaches.
6. In the teams of young players it is important that the
coach should provoke many situations of control.
7. The coach working with young players must treat all
players with dignity and respect.
8. The coach is a basketball technician, and his/her only
goal is that of coaching basketball, because teachers
and parents already take care of players education.
Jose Mara Buceta


What are my Responsibilities?
What should the General Aims of this team be?
The Players
The Players Obligations
Internal Working Rules
Resources Available
How Far Ahead to Plan
Outcome Goals and Performance Goals
Advantages of Performance Goals
Characteristics of Efficient Goals
Choosing the Most Appropriate Goals
Choosing the Most Important Contents
Work and Rest
Volume and Intensity
Characteristics of the Psychological Load
Deficient Psychological Load
Psychological Overload
Productive Psychological Load
Adequate use of Psychological Loads
Periods of Psychological Rest
Mini-Basketball Teams
13/14 Year-Old Teams
15/18 Year-Old Teams
Points to Consider


What team am I going to coach?

This is a key question that every coach should ask himself/herself before
starting, using the following questions as a guideline:

Is it a mini-basketball team? A childrens team? Is it a team up of pro-

mising young players? Is it a first-class lite team?
What sort of organisation does the team belong to? Is it a school team?
A club team? What sort of school or club?
How good are the players? How long have they been playing? What is
their potential?

The answer to these kinds of questions will help the coach to situate him-
self/herself within the corresponding context, thus avoiding errors that arise
from not having a clear idea of the type of team he/she is coaching.

What are my Responsibilities?

Once the coach understands the type of team he/she will be coaching,
he/she should ask himself/herself, What are my responsibilities? Should I
be contributing to the players overall development? Should I focus on
helping them improve as players and as people? Should I be aiming to help
them do their best in the short run? Which of these aspects are most important?.
Obviously, a coach who is training young players should assume the res-
ponsibility of contributing to his/her players overall development both in
sports and human terms. He/she should never play at being an lite coach,
interested only in short-term achievements.

What should the General Aims of this team be?

Taking into account all of the above, choaches should decide on their
teams general objectives.

* For example: lets look at a coach training a mini-basketball

school team. Some of the players will never have played before; some
will have been playing for a year; in general, their level will be low.
Such a coachs main priority will be to contribute to the development
of these children as people. His/her general aims could be that the
children enjoy themselves, that they improve their physical deve-
lopment, teaching them certain values (such as team work, respect
for others, etc.), while at the same time working on overall improve-
ment of basketball fundamentals (dribbling, passing, etc.).

Practical Exercise
Think about the sort of team you are training, what your
responsibilities are and what the general objectives of
your team could be.


The next step is to organise the team. How many players are there on the
team? What will their obligations be? What internal working rules will be
established? What resources are available (facilities, baskets, balls, etc.).

The Players
This will depend on the number available and the maximum number
allowed in each case. However, if we are talking about young players, the
coach should bear in mind the following:

anyone interested should be allowed to play; if necessary, two or more

teams can be formed so that everyone has a chance;
there should be enough players per team to allow the activities to be
carried out in the right conditions, but not so many as to make it diffi-
cult for all the players to participate;
the level of all the players on one team should be similar. This is much
more beneficial for all the players than including players of different
levels on one team;
if possible, mini-basketball teams (and sometimes teams made up of
13/14-year-olds) should be made up of players who already share other
activities (for example, children from the same class who usually play
together, etc.).

The Players Obligations

Coaches should think about their players obligations and ultimately deci-
de which ones they consider most important. During which months is the
activity carried out? How many days a week will the team train? How many
games will be played? Are the games to be held on weekends? Will the pla-
yers have to travel? And so forth.

These are key considerations because in many cases, the players

obligations are not made sufficiently clear or the coach establishes obligations
that all or some of the players are not willing to fulfill. Sooner or later this
will create a serious problem that will affect the way the team works.
The coach should establish obligations suitable to the team he/she is
training rather than others that may perhaps be more appropriate for another
type of team but not for his/hers.

Practical Exercise
Considering the type of team you are training, think
about what type of obligations would be reasonable for

One of the aspects of sports that is most important for achieving formative
objectives when working with young athletes is that they accept and fulfill
their commitments. The conditions of the commitment should be reasonable,
based on the players age and other characteristics, but the most important
thing is that, to a greater or lesser degree, the athlete makes a commitment
and fulfills it.

For this reason, it is not appropriate to organise a team in which the players
will train or play only when they feel like it or when they have nothing better
to do. Neither should unrealistic obligations be established that cannot be met.
In many cases, it would be a good idea for the coach to talk with the pla-
yers, involving them in the decisions to be made concerning the obligations
they are to accept. If the coach and the players decide on this together, the players
will feel more committed.
However, it is true that the coach can establish minimum obligations
he/she considers essential, especially with teams made up of 13/14- year-
olds and even more so with 15/18-year-olds. If, for example, he/she feels that
the team should train at least three days a week and if he/she considers this
feasible, he/she should propose this to the players and, as the case may be,
to their parents, explaining his/her reasons, his/her purpose being that the
players commit themselves to training on the days specified.

Practical Exercise
Bearing in mind how important it is for the players to
make a firm commitment to the team and to fulfill this
commitment, think again about the obligations that
would be appropriate for your players.

Internal Working Rules

Working rules are a key element in the organisation of a team. As with the
players obligations, it is advisable that these rules be few and very precise; they
should be clearly defined and should not give rise to doubts, arbitrary inter-
pretation or conflictive situations when applied. Obviously they should be
suited to the circumstances and level required of each team, keeping in mind
the level of commitment undertaken by the players or the level that can be
reasonably expected of them.

* For example: certain working rules can be established such as

being ready to start the practice at the time agreed to, arriving one
hour before the game properly dressed, taking turns collecting the
balls at the end of the practice, etc.

Rules can also be set up for mini-basketball teams, related to participation

in games. For example, a rotation system can be established so that all the
children will play a minimum number of games throughout the season.

For these teams, it could also be appropriate to establish rules regulating

the parents behaviour, explaining the reasons behind these. For example, they
should not tell the children what to do during games or sit on the bench with
the team.

Practical Exercise
Decide which working rules you consider most appro-
priate, keeping in mind the characteristics of your team.

Resources Available
The coach should know what resources he/she has available (courts, balls,
hoops, etc.) in order to make the best use of these, using his/her imagination
to make up for shortages.
First of all, coaches should take advantage of all available resources. For
example, if there are four hoops, it would be a good idea to use all four of
them rather than just two.
Secondly, it is often the case when training young players that the
resources are limited (few balls, little court time, only half a court available,
outdoor courts, etc.). For these reasons, coaches in these categories have to
use their imagination in order to make up for these deficiencies.

* For example: if only a few balls are available, circuits can be

organised for different types of drills, combining drills with and
without the ball, attempting to make drills performed without the
ball especially interesting. Coaches should never simply resign
themselves to a limited situation by lining up all the players in a
long line to wait until they finally have a turn with the ball.

* This is the time to explore what other possibilities are available

to make up for the lack of resources. For example, the team may
only have the use of one court with two hoops two days a week.
The coach could consider the possibility of training a third day on
a field without hoops, taking advantage of this session to do drills
that do not require them.

The fewer the resources available to the coach, the more important it is
for him/her to look for and find imaginative solutions to make up for it. A
coach who resigns himself/herself to working with insufficient resources
will not be a good coach for young players.

Practical Exercise
Think about the resources you have available and about
how you can make up for any limitations or shortages.


Planning activities (practice sessions and games) is an essential aspect of

a coachs job.
Coaches who do not plan ahead
tend to drift. At the beginning of
the season, they are full of excite-
ment, energy and confidence, they
have great ideas and they want to
do many things at the same time.
However, as they move further into
the season, their excitement, energy
and confidence wanes, they run out
of new ideas and the practice se-
ssions become routine and less be-
Whenever there is an important
game, they tend to once again feel
their initial motivation and once
again want the players to learn many
things at once, correcting every error
in just a few training sessions.
When the competition is even,
the coach who has not thought
ahead lives from day to day, thinking
only of the next game and forgetting
to carry out the work needed for
his/her players to really progress.

On the other hand, if a coach maps out his/her work he/she will have a
useful overall perspective that will help him/her to objectively evaluate which
aspects are most important. From this perspective, coaches can make the right
decisions and better organise the work that their team should perform.
Thanks to their planning, coaches find they have a goal and a clear idea
of how to attain it; they know exactly where they want to go, the path they
should follow and how to follow it, the problems they will encounter and
how to overcome them.

How Far Ahead to Plan

A coach may plan for the long-term, medium-term and short-term, for
several years, one season, from one to several months, for one or several
weeks and, of course, each training session.
In a club made up of teams of different categories, it could be a good idea
to make up a flexible, overall plan, covering several years for younger pla-
yers (mini-basketball stage) and another or others for the older players (13
years old and up). This way, the work of each teams coach will be defined
within a general outline that will make more overall sense.
Whether or not a coach carries out this long-term planning system, anyone
coaching young players should keep in mind what their possible course may
be in the future so as not to lose sight of what their daily work should be.

Usually mini-basketball and basketball coaches work with their teams for
a season that lasts anywhere from six to ten months. Therefore, they should
plan for this amount of time, known as a macrocycle or cycle.
Then, depending upon the specific circumstances of their team and the
activities initially foreseen, they should divide the season into shorter periods
defined by specific characteristics. These periods are called mesocycles.
Later, coaches can consider one- or two-week blocks within each mesocycle.
These are called microcycles.
And finally, they should consider the unit that represents each practice
Each of these periods (the seasons macrocyle, mesocycles, microcycles
and individual training sessions) should be planned for in advance by the
coach. Obviously, the outline for the longer periods should be more general
and flexible in outlook than the more limited short-term periods.
In other words, the plan for the season will be more general than the plan
carried out for each mesocycle, microcycle and training session. The plan


1 1.3.
NOV 2.1
2 2.4.
DEC 2.5.

3 3.3.

APR 5.2.
MAY 5.5.

Table 1. Example of periods across the season. The macrocycle is the whole season from
September to May. There are five mesocycles, each divided into microcycles of one
or two weeks.

covering a mesocycle will be more general than that covering the microcycles
and training sessions. And the plan for each microcycle will be more general
than that covering each training session.
Therefore, the specific plan outlined for each training session should be
situated within the more general context of a microcycle, which in turn
should be situated within the even more general context of a mesocycle,
situated within the yet more general context of a full season.
In this way, coaches will be able to make each drill performed by their
young players contribute more thoroughly to the overall goals of their
improvement as athletes and their human development.

Practical Exercise
Think about the team you are coaching right now (or the
last team you coached) and define the mesocycles into
which the macrocycle of the entire season can be divided.


This way, by looking first of all at the more extensive period (the entire
season) and then at each of the remaining periods (mesocycles, microcycles
and individual training sessions), the first thing a coach should do is decide
what goals his/her team should meet both collectively and individually
within that period.

What should our goals be as a team, this season? Within this mesocycle?
Within this microcycle? Within this training session?
What should each players goals be for this season? For this mesocycle?
For this microcycle? For this training session?

The goals are the ones that the team and the individual players should
achieve throughout the course of the season, thus defining the course of the
coachs work.

Outcome Goals and Performance Goals

In order to establish the goals for each period of the season, the coach
should make a distinction between outcome goals and performance goals.

Outcome goals refer to collective or individual results, such as for exam-

ple, winning the league, obtaining more points or reducing the number of
personal fouls. These goals may be divided into two types:

intra-subject or intra-group outcome goals.This refers to a players or the

teams results with respect to himself/herself or itself such as, for exam-
ple, the number of points made by a player (intra-subject) or the num-
ber of points made by the team (intra-group)
inter-subject or inter-group outcome goals.This refers to a players or the
teams results with respect to other players or other teams such as, for
example, being on the starting line-up (inter-subject) or winning a game

Performance goals include team or individual behaviour, the way the pla-
yers should behave in order to achieve the desired results. For example,
improving a chest pass, dominating two-step stops, shooting more often from
specific positions on the court, blocking defensive rebounds or playing with
the low post.
Fulfilling performance goals does not guarantee outcome results but does
increase the probability of achieving the latter and is the only possible
controlled route for achieving them.

* For example: shooting more often from ideal positions (per-

formance goal) does not guarantee that more points will be made
(outcome goal), but does increase the probability of making more
points, and only by shooting more often from these positions will
the player be able to control how to make more points.

In general, outcome goals work better at enhancing the players interest,

but performance goals are better at helping the players to understand that
they can control the situations with which they are faced.
Both types of goals guide the coachs work and help to strengthen the pla-
yers motivation but outcome goals, especially inter-subject or inter-group
outcome goals, can be very stressful (and therefore negative) for younger pla-
In general, it is advisable to combine both types of goals depending on the
players age group, keeping in mind the following:

inter-subject and inter-group outcome goals are advisable basically for

teams made up of 15/18-year-olds and, to a lesser extent, for teams
made up of 13/14-year-olds. They are not advisable for mini-basketball

intra-subject and intra-group outcome goals are advisable for teams made
up of 15/18-year-olds and 13/14-year-olds, and sometimes for older
mini-basketball teams (10/12-year-olds).
individual and collective performance goals are highly recommended for all

Practical Exercises
Make a list of possible inter-group and intra-group out-
come goals for the whole season, for 15/18-year-olds and
for 13/14-year-olds.
Make a list of possible collective and individual perfor-
mance goals for a five-week mesocycle, for the following
teams: 6/7-year-olds, 8/9-year olds, 10/12-year-olds,
13/14-year-olds, 15/16-year-olds, 17/18-year-olds.

Advantages of Performance Goals

Performance goals are extremely important for all young teams (as well
as lite teams) for the following reasons:

they emphasise the players behaviour rather than the results of

that behaviour. This means that these goals are centred on what
the players do, on what depends on them, rather than on the con-
sequences of what they do that does not depend as much on them;
they help the players to focus on their own behaviour, allowing
them to adopt a more productive and rewarding working system;
they allow a more realistic evaluation of the feasibility of the goals;
they facilitate a simple and reliable assessment of output;
they permit the players to use their own behaviour to measure
their progress;
they allow the players to establish useful contingencies between
their behaviour and its consequences;
they favour increased self-confidence and motivation.

For all of these reasons, and because outcome goals can be very stressful
and negative for childrens teams, mini-basketball coaches training 6/7-year-
olds and 8/9-year-olds should use only performance goals, avoiding the
setting of outcome goals.

Mini-basketball coaches training 10/12-year-olds should also concentra-

te on performance goals but may include some intra-subject or intra-group
outcome goals related to performance goals.

* For example: in order to work on the individual performance

goal of improving lay-ups, the coach may establish an intra-subject
outcome goal consisting of attempting to achieve a specific num-
ber of scored points in a test-drill.

For teams of 13/14-year-olds and 15/18-year-olds, the coach may incorpo-

rate outcome goals (more with older players than with younger players) being
careful not to ignore performance goals. In fact, it is important to establish per-
formance goals related to each outcome goal so that the players always know
what they must do to increase the probability of achieving the desired result.
Furthermore, for these age groups and because we are talking about pla-
yers whose work is long-term, the coach should establish some performance
goals that may not be related with outcome goals attainable during that sea-
son but that can be achieved as the players progress, thus enabling them to
opt for optimum results further down the line.

* For example: a coach may set the goal of improving low post
moves (performance goal) which will not affect the present seasons
results, but hopefully, this goal will increase the probability of achie-
ving better results the following season (longer-term outcome goal).

Test Exercise-4:
Following is a list of possible goals. Indicate whether
these are inter-subject or inter-group outcome goals
(Inter), intra-subject or intra-group outcome goals (Intra)
or performance goals (PG). The correct answers are at
the back of the book.
Inter Intra PG
1. Improve the teams previous year
2. Get 10 rebounds.
3. Dribble with left hand while mov-
ing towards the left.
4. Look at the hoop when catching the
5. Make a chest pass in a straight line.
6. Be the teams top scorer.
7. Do not cross feet when playing
8. Make 65% of the free throws.
9. Move quickly down the court to
defend after losing possession of the
10. Lift arms to block opposing teams

Characteristics of Efficient Goals

In order to be efficient, goals should include the following characteristics:

Closely linked final goals and intermediate goals should be established,

defining the time limit for each.
Final goals should mark the final objective to be reached, while
intermediate goals mark the stages to be covered in order to
progressively move closer to and ultimately achieve the final goal. Both





Table 2. Kind of tool to set outcome and related performance goals, both final and interme-
diate, for a specific period.

final goals as well as intermediate goals are necessary for maintaining

high, stable motivation.
Attainment of intermediate short-term goals strengthens the pla-
yers motivation to continue to progress. It is therefore important to
establish short-term goals.
Goals should be specific and clearly defined rather than general and ambi-
Examples of specific, clearly define goals are: shooting with the left
hand, dribbling the ball with the fingers or placing oneself in a speci-
fic defensive position enabling to watch both the ball and the opposing
player at the same time. General, ambiguous goals are: shooting better
or defending well.
Goals should be attractive to the players but realistic as well.
Attractive goals are those that awaken the players interest, but this
interest can only be maintained if the players see that the goals are rea-
listic enough to be achieved.
An attractive but unrealistic goal enhances the risk of future pro-
blems, drastically decreasing initial motivation if the player feels that
he/she cannot achieve what he/she has set out to do. However, if the
player feels that he/she can achieve the desired goal, he/she will work
harder in order to do so.
Once the goal has been attained, the players self-confidence and
motivation will be strengthened when confronted with further goals.
It is therefore important that the goals be attainable to the players.
The goals should be challenging for the players at proportionate cost.
Goals that are too easy (requiring little effort) or that require too
much effort, are not suitable. Goals should be challenging in such a way
as to motivate the player; goals that are too easy, although attractive,
are not challenging.
At the same time, a goal can be attractive, realistic and challenging
but involve too high a cost for the players, in which case the players
motivation will decrease. Thus, the cost should be considered by the
players proportionate to the value of the goal.
In team sports, both collective as well as individual goals should be esta-
If only collective goals have been established, individual motiva-
tion can easily diminish. And in teams made up of young players, it is
important that each player be allowed to progress at his/her own pace;
therefore, individual goals are important.

Practical Exercise
Think about the team you are coaching (or the last team
you coached) and look at the following:
Have you established outcome goals and performance
Have you established final goals and intermediate
Have you established short-term goals?
Are your goals specific and clearly defined?
Are they attractive?
Are they realistic?
Are they challenging?
Is achievement of these goals proportionate in terms of
Have you established collective goals and individual

Chosing the Most Appropriate Goals

Once the coach has decided which goals seem most appropriate, he/she
must decide if these can be achieved within the coaching time available. In
many cases, because of the lack of time, he/she will have to leave out certain
goals that he/she considered initially interesting.
If this is the case (a common occurrence when coaching young teams), the
coach has to choose which goals he/she considers most important, omitting
the rest. In order to do this, he/she can use criteria such as the following:
the importance of each goal, taking into account the type of team he/she
is coaching and, based on this, the teams general goals; obviously those
goals considered most important will take precedence;
the proximity of each goal with respect to the present. In general, if the
degree of importance is similar, those goals that can be achieved first
should take precedence.
the relationship between different objectives, bearing in mind whether
the attainment of one goal is essential to achieving others. In general,
the simplest goals that facilitate the attainment of later, more complex,
goals should take precedence.



Table 3. Kind of tool to set performance goals for each player.


Along these lines, it is interes-

ting for the coach to combine
offense and defense goals (for
example, improve offense 1 on
1 fundamentals and improve
defense 1 on 1 fundamentals).
Both on an individual level as
well as on a collective level,
the development of offense
and defense should follow a
parallel progression;
the incompatibility or interfe-
rence between goals (to what
degree will concentrating on
achieving a goal be incompa-
tible or interfere with the attainment of other goals). Clearly, if the
importance of goals is similar, those goals that are not incompatible or
do not interfere with each other will take precedence;
the cost esteemed necessary in order to achieve each goal, defining cost
as basically the dedication and the physical and psychological effort
necessary for the achievement of the goal. In general, those goals requi-
ring lower cost should take precedence;
the estimated probability of achieving each goal, because even though all
of the goals considered are attainable, some will be more so than others.
Logically, those considered more probable should predominate over
those less probable.

Practical Exercises
Decide upon the goals that you could set for your team as
a whole and for each of your players for the entire season.
Do the same exercise, but concentrating now on the first
mesocycle of the season.
Do the same exercise, but concentrating now on the first
microcycle of the previous mesocycle.
Focus on any of these three periods, season, mesocycle or
microcycle (only one of them) and establish the time avai-
lable for coaching your team during that period. Then,
taking into account the time available, choose goals from
among those discussed above that you consider most
important, bearing in mind the criteria listed (importan-
ce, proximity, relationship with other goals, estimated
effort and probability of attainment).


Once the coach has defined his/her goals, he/she should define the spe-
cific work to be carried out in order to be able to achieve those goals. For this,
the coach should assess exactly where the players are in relation with the
goals and, from there, decide what their needs are and what kind of work is
most appropriate.
Examples of contents are: plays with or without the ball to improve
coordination; drills to perfect dribbling, shooting or any other of the
fundamentals; drills to improve individual decisions in 2 on 2 or 3 on 3
situations, etc.
Just as with goals, coaches should be very realistic when defining the con-
tents to be covered in the training session, asking themselves questions such
as the following:
Are the players prepared for these contents?
Coaches should not expose their players to contents for which they
are not prepared at the time.
If they are prepared, are these the most appropriate contents for this
type of team?
Although coaches may have already asked themselves this question
with respect to goals, it is advisable to ask themselves this again
when thinking about the contents.
Is it feasible to work with these contents within the time available?
Here again, estimation of time available is crucial.

Practical Exercises
Make a list of possible goals for a five-week mesocycle for
a team of either 15/18-year-olds, 13/14-year-olds, 10/12-
year-olds or 6/9-year-olds, training for an hour and a half,
three afternoons a week. Then, based on this, make up a
list of contents needed to achieve those goals.
Based on the previous exercise, try to answer the follo-
wing questions:
Are the players prepared for these contents?
Even if they are prepared, are these contents the most
appropriate for this kind of team?
Is it feasible to work with these contents within the
time available?





Table 4. Goals and related contents may be distributed in three categories: defense, offense
and others.

Choosing the Most Important Contents

As with goals it is likely that, considering the time available, the coach
will have to decide which contents should be included in his/her training
plan, omitting the less important.
In order to establish the priority of the contents, the coach may consider
the following criteria:

suitability of the contents. Clearly, the coach should only take into
account the most suitable contents, omitting any that are not appro-
specifics of the contents with respect to the goal; the most specific with
respect to the goal should take precedence;

* This does not mean that, for example, a mini-basketball coach

should emphasise specific training (for example, drills focused on
improving chest passes) to the detriment of more general work
(drills to improve different kinds of passes and other related fun-
damentals); rather, once he/she has defined the goal (more or less
global), the contents should be specific with respect to that goal. In
the former case, a mini-basketball coach could establish overall
improvement of different fundamentals as his/her goal and there-
fore, he/she would choose contents that are specifically focused on
achieving that overall improvement.

simplicity of the contents: in

principle, the simplest con-
tents should take precedence
over more complex contents;
immediacy of the contents: in
general, the contents conside-
red more immediate to the
achievement of the goal in
question should take prece-
relationship with other con-
tents: contents that facilitate
the future development of la-
ter contents should take pre-
cedence over neutral contents
or contents that may have a
negative effect on later work;

the integration of the contents into the overall framework to be develo-

ped; the contents that fit in best should take precedence;
the cost in terms of dedication and physical and mental effort; contents
with a lower cost should take precedence.

Therefore, in order to achieve the goals of the plan, the coach should select
contents that are suitable and specific to the goal and, from those contents,
select the simplest, the most immediate for the achievement of that goal, those
which facilitate work with later contents, those which fit in best with the ove-
rall work plan to be carried out and those which involve a lower cost in terms
of dedication and effort.

Practical Exercises
Choose a goal that the players must achieve within a spe-
cific time period and make a list of contents to be worked
on in order to achieve that goal.
Using the list from the previous exercise, decide which
contents should take precedence, keeping in mind the
criteria mentioned (suitability, specifics, simplicity,
immediacy, relationship with other contents, integration
into the overall work plan and cost in dedication and


When planning training sessions, the mini-basketball or basketball coach

should not only consider technical and tactical contents (passing, dribbling,
3 on 3 drills, etc.) or contents related with the players physical development
(for example, drills to improve their coordination or speed)) but also the phy-
sical workload most suitable for each training period and session. The coach
who makes use of the most appropriate workload can achieve the following

improve the physical condition of his/her players, not only with the more
specific physical work but also with the technical and tactical training
which involve physical work (for example, when the players perform
fast-break drills);
help the players to better assimilate techniques and tactics, because they are
performing in better physical shape;

avoid fatigue and burnout. When young players are overtired, they no
longer enjoy themselves, they learn less and there is a greater risk of
injury; besides, given these conditions, they are more likely to perform
poorly academically (an important aspect when working with young
athletes). For all of these reasons, it is important that they be able to
recuperate after every important effort;
help them to perform better during the games. Although the most impor-
tant objective of most young players teams is not their performance
during the games, the players should play in good physical shape (even
if the conditions are not the best) in order to perform and benefit from
the experience.

Therefore, when planning training sessions, the coach should keep in

mind the physical workload at all times.

Work and Rest

In the first place, the coach must understand that his/her workplan
should alternate work and rest throughout each training period and session.

on the one hand, he/she should submit his/her players to physical

work (with or without the ball, more general or more specific, accor-
ding to the goals) so that they will be fit.
but on the other hand, he/she should allow his/her players to rest
enough to permit them to assimilate the work performed and to be in
good shape for do more.

To control the balance between physical work and rest, coaches should consi-
der both the sports work of their teams as well as the work involved in other
activities that the players participate in. In teams where the players are
youngsters, it is likely that they have physical education class, participate in
other sports or play basketball in their free time, apart from the work they do
with the team.
A mini-basketball coach should integrate mini-basketball into the players
daily lives, making it one more satisfying activity, not something that interfe-
res with their other activities.

* For example: if the training sessions exhaust the children so

much that they cannot do their homework, play with their friends
or chat with their parents, this would be a serious problem.

So a mini-basketball coach should

try to keep the workload in the train-
ing sessions from being excessive
so that the players, considering all
of their activities, have rest periods
during the week and during the
Achieving the best physical sha-
pe for performing during the games
should not be the main goal for either
mini-basketball or 13/14-year-old
teams. However, this could be a
goal for some 15/18-year-old teams,
if not for every game, at least for the
key games of the season. In any
case, it is a good idea that all of the
players be able to perform accep-
tably in games, even if the main
objective is not necessarily to win:

in the first place, because for any minimally motivated player,

playing a game is a very attractive situation in which he/she
wants to perform to the best of his/her ability;
in the second place, because those players who do perform well
in the games (always adapting the criteria used to define per-
form well to each case) receive very positive psychological rein-
forcement from such an experience, strengthening their self-con-
fidence and motivation;
in the third place, because games make up part of the players
training, it is important to take the maximum advantage of them.
Thus, a game will be a much more positive experience in every
way if the players are in good shape than if they are tired and can
hardly perform at all.

For these reasons, it is important to keep in mind that the players should be
rested before a game. So, when planning training sessions, the physical
workload of the previous two days should be light.
It is also important to remember that games require enormous physical
effort after which the players have to recuperate. Therefore, when planning trai-
ning sessions for the day after a game, the players should either rest or have
another light session.
The balance between work and rest should also be kept in mind during
each training session. The players should perform a series of drills (work) and

then be able to recuperate from the effort by either resting or doing drills that
require less physical effort.

* For example: after a drill series of full court 1 on 1 (intensive

exercise) the players will need to rest or do low-intensity drills (for
example, free throws).

In general, for young teams (especially mini-basketball and 13/14-year-

olds) it is recommended that the players not perform intensive drills for long
periods and that they have enough time to recuperate each time, even within
the drill itself.

* For example: within a full court 1 on 1 drill, players may do

defense and offense (work) and then 30-40 seconds of recuperation
(rest) until the next 1 on 1.

Practical Exercises
Organise a training session of basketball drills for a mini-
basketball team or a team of 13/14-year-olds, suitably
combining work and rest.
Work out a general programme for one week, for a mini-
basketball team or a team of 13/14-year-olds, combining
work and rest, keeping in mind that twice a week the pla-
yers have gym class and that on one of those days
(Thursday) they also have basketball practice.

Volume and Intensity

When estimating the physical workload, a distinction should be made be-
tween volume and intensity.
Volume is the total amount of physical work performed by the players.
Intensity refers to the physical work that the players do within a unit of time.

* For example: a drill consisting of a series of thirty fast-breaks

has more volume than a drill involving twenty series. And both
drills will be more intensive if the series are made in five minutes
instead of eight minutes.

An adequate balance between volume and intensity throughout the season is

an important element in coaching 15/18-year-old basketball teams, less
important for 13/14-year-old teams, and barely significant for mini-basket-
ball teams.
Volume is considered the base which supports the rest of an athletes work
and, upon that base, intensity acquires importance. For this reason, volume is key
for young teams at the beginning of the season or after any period of inactivity.
Once appropriate volume has been achieved, intensity and rest are the
key elements for reaching optimum physical shape. However, if for a pro-
longed period of time the player works only on intensity, he/she will pro-
bably lose in fitness. For this reason, volume, intensity and rest should be sui-
tably combined for those teams that wish to carefully maintain their physical
shape (top teams and, at specific periods, 15/18-year-olds).
Therefore, both the mini-basketball coach and the coach for a team of
13/14-year-olds should be basically concerned with volume rather than inten-
sity, seeking the adequate balance between volume and rest.
This means that the most important factor for either a mini-basketball
team or a team of 13/14-year-olds is to train in the appropriate measure (appro-
priate amount of workload), without considering their physical shape, for the
purpose of adequately developing the players physical qualities, preventing
exhaustion and burnout, and performing to an acceptable degree for the
formative experience of the games.
However, the coach working with 15/18-year-olds should be more aware
of the balance between volume and intensity.
In general, as can be seen in Figure-1, volume should take precedence over
intensity during the first months of the season, but intensity should increase in
the second half, as volume decreases, so that the players are at peak physical
condition when they should be per-
forming best at games (assuming
that the most important games are
played at the end of the season).
For these teams (15/18-year-
olds), the main thing is that through-
out the season they combine the
formative work necessary at these
ages with the tune-up work that is
also important in order for them to
perform better for the most impor-
tant games of the season.
Thus, far from the most impor-
tant games volume should be higher
and intensity lower, and when
approaching those games, volume

Figure 1. Example of Volume () and Intensity () loads during the whole season in a
15-18 year-old team.

should decrease and intensity increase, being very important to decrease the
whole physical workload (both volume and intensity) and to increase the
periods of rest just before the important games.

Practical Exercises
Organise a coaching session with basketball drills for a
team of 15/18-year-olds in which volume takes prece-
dence over intensity.
Organise a coaching session with basketball drills for a
team of 15/18-year-olds in which intensity takes prece-
dence over volume.
Along general lines, plan the tendency of volume and
intensity for the whole season for a team of 15/18-year-
olds who should work on improving throughout the year,
but whose performance is especially important for two
blocks of games: one at the end of February and the other
at the end of the season. The season begins in September
and ends in May.


Just as the coach should control the physical workload, he/she should
also control the psychological load. In this way, the coach will help his/her
young players to:

make the best use of the training sessions;

better assimilate the most complex technical and tactical concepts;
deal properly with the extra physical workload involved in training
recuperate properly between one practice and the next;
be psychologically prepared for games;
make use of practice sessions to develop psychological skills that will
help them in sports and in life in general;
not suffer mental exhaustion and burnout which leads to a decrease in
motivation and attention, increasing the risk of injury, lowering their
performance, worsening their health and, in many cases, increasing the
risk of their giving up sports altogether.

Characteristics of the Psychological Load

The psychological load is related to such aspects of training as the follo-

the players commitment to their sport; the greater the commitment, the
greater the psychological load;
players participation in the drills; the greater their participation, the grea-
ter the psychological load;
the novelty, variety and complexity of the tasks set during a session; the grea-
ter the degree of novelty, variety and complexity, the greater the men-
tal effort required of the players;
the general demand required of the players; the more required of them, the
greater the psychological load;
the degree of attention demanded of them; although any demand requires
a psychological effort, those tasks requiring more intense attention
include a greater psychological load than tasks requiring less atten-
stressful competitive situations; exercises that pose stressful competitive
situations (for example, playing a game with a time limit in which the
winning team gets a prize) imply a greater psychological load;

evaluation of players performance; evaluating the players performance

during a training drill increases the psychological load;
the behaviour of the coach; if the coach is on top of the drill, giving ins-
tructions, commenting, correcting, reinforcing, etc, the psychological
load is greater. This is even truer if the coachs behaviour produces
stress (for example, if the coach aggressively recriminates the players).

Practical Exercise
Organise a 1 on 1 drill with a low psychological load and
another 1 on 1 drill with a greater psychological load.

Deficient Psychological Load

Without a minimum psychological load, the training session is dull and
boring, except in those sessions right before a game when the motivation pro-
duced by the upcoming game tends to eclipse any deficiency of the practice
Under deficient psychological load, many young players lose their initial
motivation. They go to practice and are bored, they go again the next day and
are bored again, day after day. For many of them, mini-basketball or basket-
ball is no longer a stimulating activity.
Therefore monotonous sessions (doing the same drills again and again)
where the players participate little (for example, a long line of players wai-
ting for their turn) with a low general and attentional effort required, no com-
petitive drills, no evaluation of their performance of any kind, and in which
the coach is not involved in their work, lead the players to a sense of bore-
dom, a loss of interest in mini-basketball or basketball, the incapacity to take
advantage of the practice session, the impossibility of assimilating anything
(or very little) and, in many cases, quitting the sport.

Practical Exercise
Make a list of measures you can take with your mini-bas-
ketball, 13/14-year-olds or 15/18-year-olds to keep prac-
tice sessions from being boring.

At the other extreme,
neither should there be per-
manent psychological overlo-
ad because, in that case, the
activity will be overly stress-
ful and, if not handled pro-
perly, will produce negati-
ve effects.
When considering psy-
chological overload, the
coach should bear in mind
the quantitative overload (too
many psychological de-
mands) and the qualitative
overload (stressful demands
that force the players to
make an extreme effort).

Psychological Load
A distinction should
also be made between pro-
ductive load and unproductive load. Productive load can be beneficial if hand-
led correctly. Unproductive load, on the other hand, has no positive effects
and can even be negative.

* For example: a coach who poses a challenging drill that the

players can master by making an important effort, will be using a
productive psychological load.

* However, a coach who insults a player who has made a mis-

take, will be producing an unproductive psychological load that
could even, as in this case, have negative results.

Productive psychological loads are excellent opportunities to help the pla-

yers progress.

Their most important characteristic is that they provoke a psychological

effort on the part of the players which helps them to control a difficult situa-
tion that can actually be controlled.

* For example: a mini-basketball coach divides her players into

two groups and organises a shooting competition between them. If
the players shoot from positions in which they can actually score
and if the level of the two groups is similar, the drill will have a pro-
ductive psychological load. The players will be concentrating on
the task, they are faced with a competitive situation that they can
handle, they will have to deal with the frustration of their mistakes
in order to keep on trying, they will have to quickly assimilate su-
ccessful shots in order to keep on shooting, and they will be faced
with the success or failure of the final score (thus learning to con-
trol emotions related to success and failure), etc.

* However, if the coach organises the same drill but with the pla-
yers shooting from positions from which they can barely reach the
hoop, or where one team is much better than the other, the psycho-
logical load will be negative. In the first situation, after several failed
attempts, the players will not be able to overcome the frustration pro-
duced by their mistakes because they will perceive that they are not
controlling the situation; they will see that, no matter how hard they
try, the goal of scoring is beyond their reach and, in these conditions,
both motivation and effort will diminish. In the latter case, the better
team will have to make little effort and the inferior team will follow
suit once they realise that they are at a clear disadvantage.

Practical Exercises
Imagine that you are coaching a mini-basketball team:
develop a drill with a productive psychological load and
one with a negative psychological load.
Do the same thing, but this time for a team of 13/14-year-olds.
Do the same exercise, but this time for a team of 15/18-

Adequate Use of Psychological Loads

Just as physical workloads should be suited to the players capabilities,
psychological loads should also adapt to the players possibilities so that they
can control them.

Therefore, in general terms, the psychological load for mini-basketball

teams should be moderate, avoiding very stressful drills and a stressful eva-
luation of the players performance. In order to achieve an adequate load, the
following should predominate:
drills in which all of the players participate assiduously (thus avoiding
situations where they are waiting a long time for their turn);
simple drills which the players can easily assimilate;
general contents that do not force the players to make a special effort
to concentrate on very reduced stimuli;
short drills to avoid the players loss of attention;
competitive drills, carefully monitored by the coach in such a way that
successes and failures are evenly divided;
very rewarding drills.

For these teams, the total volume of psychological load can be similar in
most of the practice sessions. During each session, either drills of a similar load
can be used or drills with a greater load compensated by others of a lesser load.

* For example: if a drill requires the players to be especially

focused on a specific point, it should be followed by others that
require less specific intensive attention.

For teams of 13/14-year-olds, the psychological load can be greater and

even more so for 15/18-year-olds although, in both cases, greater and lesser
loads should be alternated in practice sessions and in the drills performed
during each session.
Let us consider, for example, a one-week plan of four practice sessions for
a team of 15/18-year-olds:

the first day, the coach introduces new offense contents that force
the players to make an important mental effort (medium-high load);
the second day, the same contents are repeated, using non-stress-
ful drills (medium-low load);
the third day, the coach uses competitive drills related to those
contents and other contents that the players have already mas-
tered; some drills may be stressful drills (high-very high load);
the fourth day, contents are repeated using non-stressful drills
(low load).

In general, just as with the physical workload, the psychological load should
not be high on days preceding games. When planning each period of the season,
this should be kept in mind for teams of 15/18-year-olds and on certain occa-
sions for teams of 13/14-year-olds.

Practical Exercises
Organise a practice of one hour for a mini-basketball
team, keeping the psychological load moderate.
Plan a weeks training for a 15/18-year-old team within
the first half of the season, using drills with different types
of psychological loads (new contents, complex drills
requiring intense concentration, non-stressful competiti-
ve drills, very stressful drills, etc.).

Periods of Psychological Rest

When planning the entire season, the mesocycles, microcycles and prac-
tice sessions, the coach should bear in mind the importance of psychological
rest periods as well as physical rest periods, so that the players will be able
to assimilate the work they have done and be in shape for new productive
It is therefore a good idea, during the macrocycle of the season, for young
players, especially mini-basketball players and 13/14-year-olds, to have rest
periods which involve taking a break from the basketball activity. It is advi-
sable for them to divide their time
between their sports activities and
other physical, recreational and inte-
llectual activities.
For example, the practice of an
individual sport would be a good
complement for a mini-basketball
player already involved in a team
sport at a formative age. This way,
while developing qualities such as
teamwork, inherent in mini-basket-
ball, he/she can develop others such
as assuming individual responsibility,
inherent in individual sports.

It is also a good idea that, along with activities that require commitment
on the part of the player, others are planned which require a less important
commitment or none at all (excursions, days spent out in the country, etc.).
Combining these kind of activities or others is a good formative experience
for young players and helps them to rest from the psychological demands of
basketball practices and games.

With 13/14-year-olds and 15/18-year-olds, this important aspect should

also be taken into account.

* The coach of a junior team made the following mistake: the

team travelled by bus for 3 hours for an away game after which,
during the trip back, the coach made the players watch the video
of the game. The coach considered that, since the players were sea-
ted, they could rest from the effort made during the game while
watching the video.

It is clear that this coach did not take into account the psychological load
of the game or the psychological load of watching a video of this type. A
game involves a very high psychological load producing extreme psycholo-
gical wear and tear, and requires a period of psychological rest so that the pla-
yers can recuperate.

Under the conditions of psychological exhaustion that the player feels

after a game, it is unlikely that he/she can make the mental effort needed to
learn anything useful from a video. What is more, the effort of trying is highly
unproductive and could even have a negative effect because, in a situation
such as this, the players may reach erroneous conclusions, and they are being
deprived of a needed rest period to be able to make further psychological
efforts in future training sessions and games.

In this example, the coach should plan the video session for another time,
respecting the psychological rest period needed by the players.

Practical Exercise
Considering the macrocycle of a season, plan periods and
activities of psychological rest for a mini-basketball team,
a team of 13/14-year-olds, and a team of 15/18-year-olds
for the entire macrocycle.


Along with practice sessions, when organising their planning, coaches

should not forget the games the team will be playing, irrespective of the
importance they wish to assign each.

First of all, games involve physical and psychological load that should
be taken into account in the overall planning.
Secondly, they involve technical and tactical contents that should also
be taken into account.
Thirdly, participation in a game is a highly attractive competitive expe-
rience for the players and full advantage should be taken of this expe-

Mini-Basketball Teams
For a mini-basketball team, the games should be seen only as a positive
experience in the players sports and human development. Mini-basketball
games should be considered an educational opportunity where winning is not
the fundamental objective. The children should learn to be good sports, res-
pect the rules of the game, respect the referees and the opposing team, try
their best, compete fully, etc., and they should enjoy this magnificent expe-
For this reason, the mini-basket-
ball coach should organise the sea-
sons games in such a way that all the
players have an equal chance to par-
ticipate throughout the year.
They should divide playing time
among all of the players who have
reasonably fulfilled their commitment
rather than allowing the best players
to play the most and keeping the
worst players on the bench.
Neither is it enough that all the
players get onto the court. Partici-
pating in a game means that any pla-
yer on the court should be able to
express his/her initiatives, playing
without restriction. For example,
some coaches tend to let their best
players have the ball and shoot while
two or three other children are simply

filling up the court. Obviously, those children are not participating in the
The mini-basketball coach should plan all of the games of the season and
each specific game, keeping in mind that all of the players should be able to
participate sufficiently.
Moreover, the mini-basketball coach could use some game time to reward
the players for attendance and punctuality at practices, for effort and even for
positive behaviour at school or at home.

* For example: coaches could decide that the players who have
attended the most practices and who have been the most punctual
can play one period, and that the players who have done all of their
homework that week can play another.

Likewise, it would not be a positive educational experience for a child

who never goes to practice to play, in the same way as it would be very unrea-
sonable to keep a child from playing if he has missed one day because he had
to go with his parents to a family event.
Mini-basketball coaches should also try to make the games rewarding expe-
riences rather than unpleasant ones, so
it is important to present a game as
just another day of activity rather
than turning it into something overly
However, for 10/12-year-olds it
could be interesting for the players to
have a specific objective to aim for
(this should always be a performance
goal, not an outcome goal).
For mini-basketball teams, a game
should not alter the educational trai-
ning most appropriate for these ages
but rather be part of this training.
Therefore, when planning the sea-
son, coaches should make sure that
there is an adequate number of games
(generally between 18 and 25) and if
possible, against teams at a similar
level or, at least, that not most of them
be much better or much worse than
their own team.

If there are not enough games, the motivating element of games

that is important for the children will be missing and if there are
too many, the psychological load involved would be unsuitable
for players of this age.

In the same way, if the opponents are at a similar level or if the

differences, both in favour and against, occur only occasionally,
the experience of playing a game will be much more enriching.

Finally, mini-basketball coaches should integrate the games into the teams
overall training plan without adapting their plan to the opponents of a par-
ticular upcoming game or spending training sessions to prepare specifically
for any one game.

Practical Exercise
Make up a schedule of games for the whole season that
you consider most appropriate for mini-basketball teams
of 6/7-year-olds, 8/9-year-olds and 10/12-year-olds.

13/14-Year-Old Teams
In the same way, for teams of 13/14-year-olds, the games should not be
overly important but be part of the players overall training process, although
in this case, with more goals set (basically performance goals) than for mini-
basketball teams.
The coach for 13/14-year-olds should also allow all the players who go to
practice to play many minutes throughout the season, because otherwise,
their motivation will decrease and it will be more likely that they quit the
sport or make little effort.
With players of this age, the coach should use the games as an excellent
test of the effectiveness of his/her work during training sessions. With this in
mind, it is necessary to consider the following steps:

before each game, coaches should establish the collective and/or

individual performance goals (keeping them very realistic) that
they consider most important for that game, taking into account
the contents worked during that week or in preceding weeks;
before the game, coaches should establish a simple procedure to eva-
luate whether or not those goals are achieved, and to what degree;

during the game (or afterwards, if it has been recorded on video),

the coach or a capable colleague should make note of the beha-
viours that constitute the performance goals;
after the game, coaches should study the notes taken and assess
what has occurred with the performance goals established befo-
re the game; this assessment will provide them with the infor-
mation necessary to know how the players are assimilating the
work done during training.

For example, the coach is working on screens during the training sessions
and he/she wants to monitor how the players are assimilating these contents.
In the next game, he/she establishes setting screens as a priority performan-
ce goal and draws up a worksheet like that shown in Table-5.
During the game, an assistant coach uses this worksheet to tick off each
screen made by the team, noting down the player setting the screen and the
player screened.
After the game, the coach can use this worksheet to see how many screens
the team has set, which players set the most, which players were screened
most often and which pairs of players set the most screens between them.
This information will be very useful in planning training sessions for the
coming weeks. The coach could establish the same goal for the next game and
use the same worksheet to see if there has been any improvement. Then
he/she could do the same thing three or four games later.
Basically, the interaction between practice sessions and games, using the
latter as test experiences, is a fundamental element for 13/14-year-old teams.
The game goals established by the coach should mainly be performance goals
because what he/she is interested in is observing the players progress in the
basketball fundamentals that make up the contents covered during practice.

Practical Exercise
Choose two possible performance goals for a 13/14-year-
old team to work on during a game and design a simple
worksheet for evaluating those goals.

15/18-Year-Old Teams
At this age group, especially for juniors (17/18-year-olds), the results of
the competition may be important without losing sight of the educational pers-
pective that should still be present. Therefore, there are two types of game:

4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13

E 9





Table 5. Example of simple tool to monitor the frecuency of screening during games. Every
time the team sets a screen, the assistant-coach may tick in the proper spot consid-
ering both the screener and the player screened.

games in which the main objective is to win. This should generally not
be more than 25% for 15/16-year-olds nor more than 40% for 17/18-
games in which the main objective is to consolidate the formative work
carried out during training.

Games in which the main objective is to win, if used well, are also part of
the formative work of young players, because they must learn to face the
stress of such games. However, the existence of these games does not mean
that the main priority of the training plan should be to prepare the team to
win them (contrary to what happens with professional teams).
For these cadet or junior teams, the
existence of games in which the main
objective is to win should affect the
training plan to a certain degree with-
out altering the fundamental objective:
the players advanced development.
Basically, this means that the pla-
yers of such a team should not limit
themselves to strengthening their
best individual and collective resour-
ces for the specific purpose of perfor-
ming better at key games in the sea-
son, but to work on improving their
weak points, thus enriching the pla-
yers repertory of resources, keeping
in mind their future.
This way, perhaps in some cases
the teams performance will be lower
in the short term, but the players will
benefit more and the team will be ful-
filling the formative task that should
still predominate at this age.
Nevertheless, in order to get the most from the valuable experience of par-
ticipating in a game, it is important that the coach take into consideration the
opposing team and prepare for the game.

If these are games in which the main objective is winning, the coach
must prepare the players so that they have a better chance of achieving
that goal and so that they can get used to such a situation, with all it
And for all other games, the coach must prepare the players so that they
learn from them.

* For example: if the coach knows that a certain opposing team

uses full-court man-to-man defense, even if his/her main objective
is not to win this game, it provides an excellent opportunity to work
on contents related with offense against this type of defense.
Therefore, when planning the training sessions, he/she should keep
this in mind.

The procedure that a coach for 15/18-year-olds could use in planning the
entire season and each of its periods could be the following:

decide which goals and contents he/she considers appropriate

for the players to significantly improve their level;
establish the proportion he/she considers appropriate between
games in which the main objective is to win and other games
(25% and 75%? 30% and 70%? 35% and 65%?..);
on the calendar, situate the games in which the main objective is
to win and, based on this, establish the physical and psycholo-
gical workload for the practice;
keeping these games in mind, situate the goals and contents most
closely related to them on the training calendar (from among the
goals and contents previously established);
then, situate all of the other goals and contents on the calendar;
for those weeks in which games to win are to be played, the
coach can devote one or two practice sessions to preparing spe-
cifically for those games. The rest of the time, the coach should
not use practice time for preparing for games;
whatever the main objective of the game, the coach should esta-
blish performance goals for all of them. For those games in which
the main objective is winning, performance goals increase the
probability of achieving this result. And for other games, per-
formance goals related with the players individual or collective
progress, help to achieve improvement.

Practical Exercise
Think of a team of 15/16-year-olds or one of 17/18-year-
olds and, following the steps outlined above, plan, in
general terms, an eight-month season in which the team
plays between 25 and 35 games.

Points to Consider
Whatever the team, coaches training young players should keep in mind
two important aspects.

First of all, they should think about what they require of their players
during a game. Many coaches demand more than what their players
can do, with the result that the games lose part of their formative value
and become overly stressful and unproductive. However, those coa-
ches who take into account their players real possibilities make much
better use of the valuable experience provided by each game.
Therefore, the coach should try to make each (or most) of the games
rewarding experiences in which the players, whether they win or lose,
perceive that they control or can control the different situations with
which they are faced. Perception of control is an essential aspect in the
development of a young players self-confidence.
Thus, the goals established by the coach for each game should basically
be achievable and very realistic.
The other aspect is that coaches training young players should not imita-
te coaches training professional teams. This means that they should not
plan the season with the sole objective of maximum performance in
games, limiting their goals and contents to winning the greatest number
of games, devoting most of the practice sessions to preparing games, etc.
Professional teams have one
purpose and young players
teams have another objective;
the coach should clearly un-
derstand this difference and
plan the games and training
sessions in consequence.


In each period of the season, the coach should schedule the goals and con-
tents of the practices, taking into account, as the case may be, games, physi-
cal workload and psychological load.
As an example, see tools included in Tables-6 and 7.
In the first case (Table-6), the coach schedules the physical workload (volu-
me and intensity) and the psychological load of training sessions for a five-
week mesocycle, taking into account practice sessions available and games
to be played. From there, the coach can suitably schedule the goals and con-
tents of training sessions in that mesocycle.


PERIOD: FROM: 18-1 TO: 21-2


NUMBER OF GAMES : 5 (days 24, 31, 6, 13 and 21)


DATES : 18 19 20 21 22 23 24




DATES : 25 26 27 28 29 30 31



DATES : 1 2 3 4 5 6 7



DATES : 8 9 10 11 12 13 14



DATES : 15 16 17 18 19 20 21



Table 6. Example of tool to plan physical work load: Volume (VOL) and Intensity (INT), and
psychological load (PSYCH) in a mesocycle of five weeks.


PERIOD: FROM: 18-10 TO: 24-10


NUMBER GAMES : 1 (day 24)


18 19 20 21 22 23 24









Table 7. Example of tool to plan goals and contents in a microcycle of one week, considering time
available, games, physical work load (volume and intensity) and psychological load.

In the second example (Table-7), the coach should schedule the goals and
contents for a one-week microcycle, taking into account the practice sessions
available, games to be played, the physical workload (volume and intensity)
and the psychological load that he/she considers most appropriate for each
training session.
Following the recommendations outlined in this chapter, coaches can
schedule their teams activity for the whole season and for each period. Then
they will have to organise each training session, taking into account aspects
covered in the next chapter.

Test Exercise-5
Based on the information contained in this chapter, state
whether the following are True or False. The correct
answers are at the end of the book.

True False
1. When establishing the players obligations, the coach
and the players should make joint decisions.
2. Working rules should only be established when prob-
lems arise.
3. Mesocycles are the periods into which the seasons
macrocycle is divided.
4. Outcome goals are much more useful than perfor-
mance goals.
5. Among other characteristics, goals should be both
attractive and realistic for the players.
6. Controlling the physical workload is a key aspect that
the coach should keep in mind when planning train-
ing sessions.
7. In general, the intensity of physical work should pre-
dominate over volume during the first weeks of the
8. The psychological load of a training session is not the
coachs responsibility.
9. In general, short drills help young players to avoid
attentional fatigue.
10. At the end of the week, every coach should adapt his/her
training programme to preparing upcoming games.
Jose Mara Buceta


Stages of a Training Session

Goals of the Training Session

Contents and Drills

Working Routines


Explaining the Goal of the Drill

Controlling Antecedent Stimuli

Drills with a Simple Structure

Specific Working Rules

Varied Drills

Related Drills

Competitive Drills

Enjoyable Drills

Duration of the Drills

Attentional Intensity of the Drills

Players Participation

Test Drills




After planning the whole season, the mesocycles and the microcycles, the
coach must organise each training session.
The coach should plan and schedule the session, bearing in mind dura-
tion, physical workload and psychological load. Specifically, he/she must
define the goals, the contents and the drills of the session and decide on the
schedule, distributing the drills throughout the available time (see Table-8).

Stages of a Training Session

In general, a training session should be divided into three stages:

In the first stage, the aim is to progressively prepare the players to be in top
physical and mental condition when they reach the central stage of the
practice. Here should be included warm-up drills without the ball such
as running, stretching, etc., and simple drills with the ball (low physi-
cal and psychological load) that, little by little, require greater concen-
tration and physical effort.
In the second stage, the coach should incorporate the main contents of the
session, those requiring greater physical and psychological effort, com-
bining drills of greater and lesser intensity (physically and psychologi-
cally speaking) in the proportion he/she deems most appropriate.
In the third stage, the coach should progressively reduce the physical and
psychological intensity, although not necessarily simultaneously. Thus,
in the first part of this third stage, he/she could include a physically
intensive drill requiring low concentration (for example, running up
and down the court to improve physical shape or playing a game in
which the players are free to play as they please). Or he/she can orga-
nise it the other way around, a psychologically intense drill with a low
physical workload (for example, a shooting contest). Then it would be
appropriate to end up with exercises that require little physical and
mental effort, basically stretching exercises.

Practical Exercises
Programme a training session of an hour and a quarter
for a mini-basketball team.
Programme a training session of an hour and a half for a
team of 13/14-year-olds.
Programme a training session of two hours for a team of








Table 8. Example of tool to organise single training sessions.


Goals of the Training Session

The coach must decide what the main goals of the training session will be
and, based on this, select the contents to be included and the most appropriate
drills, taking into account the time available and the physical and psycholo-
gical loads that he/she considers most appropriate at a given time.
The goals of each session should be few and very clear to the coach. Two
serious mistakes are:
trying to do too much in a single practice or a single drill;
the coach not knowing clearly what he/she wants to achieve during
the training session as a whole and with each specific drill.

In general, the goals of a practice session can be grouped into four main

learning: the objective is for the players to learn or perfect new

skills or skills they have not yet mastered, both technical funda-
mentals (passing, dribbling, shooting, etc.) as well as tactical deci-
sions (1 on 1, 2 on 2, 3 on 3 decisions, etc.);

repetition: the objective is to rehearse skills that players have

already mastered in order to consolidate them, perfect them or
favour physiological change, as the case may be (for example:
shooting series of twenty shots or running and passing during
ten minutes);

exposure to real game conditions: the objective here is for the pla-
yers to train under real game conditions (mainly stressful condi-
tions) so that they get used to these conditions;

specific game preparation: the objective is to prepare the team to

confront specific rivals who present specific difficulties.

For a mini-basketball team, learning goals should predominate and, to

a lesser degree, repetition goals. It is not appropriate to spend training
time on the other two areas.
For teams of 13/14-year-olds, learning and repetition should also pre-
dominate but it is also a good idea, to some degree, for the players to
practice skills mastered in non-stressful game conditions. However, it is
not appropriate for this age group to spend training time on specific
game preparation.

For teams of 15/18-year-olds,

learning, repetition, exposure
to game conditions, and spe-
cific preparation for games
should be adequately com-

Contents and Drills

Contents included in the practi-
ce sessions should correspond to the
goals (perfecting foot movement in
1 on 1 defense; repeating passes
already mastered, etc.) and should
be chosen based on the criteria dis-
cussed in the previous chapter.
In general, it is a good idea for
the coach to combine offense goals
contents with defense goals contents, although he/she may decide to empha-
sise one or the other.
In order to work with all of the contents, the coach should design specific
drills. For example, to work on 1 on 1 defense, the coach should design a drill
specifically for this purpose.
The drills are essential for making the most of practice time. A session
made up of good, well-coordinated drills will benefit the players much more
than a session with inappropriate or poorly coordinated ones.
Later on, we will discuss the main characteristics of training drills, and
examples will be given, in the corresponding chapters, of drills for each of the
three age groups (mini-basketball, 13/14-year-olds, 15/18-year-olds).

Working Routines
Coaches should establish working routines that the players are familiar
with. In order to do this, they should look at questions such as the following:

How early should the players get to practice? When should they be
dressed and ready to start training?
How should the practice start out? Will the coach meet with the players
in the locker room before going out on the court?; Should the players
go out when they are ready and start to train by themselves until the
coach calls them? Should the players go out on the court and wait until
the coach calls them before doing anything else?

Who is in charge of the material needed for the practice? Who is in

charge of the balls? Who picks them up after practice? Who has the key
to the locker room? Who is responsible for the blackboard? etc.
What happens if a player gets injured?; Who takes care of him?; What
should be done?

Coaches should also establish simple rules when speaking to the players
so that they pay attention to them.

* For example: they could use a whistle when they want the pla-
yers to stop what they are doing and listen to them; and they could
whistle twice for the players to go over to them.

* Coaches should also establish that when they meet with the
players to talk to them, they should not be dribbling the ball, tying
their shoes, talking to each other or doing anything else, but should
look at them and pay attention to what they are saying.

Nevertheless, in order to keep the players attention in these situations,

coaches should make sure that their explanations are short and very precise.
Coaches should also establish procedures such as requiring the players to
ask permission to leave the practice session (for example, to use the
bathroom), concerning the type of clothes they should wear, whether or not
they can sit down or drink water between drills, the relationship they should
maintain with each other during practice (for example, it would be a good
idea to forbid them to make negative comments to each other), the
relationship maintained with visitors (parents, friends, etc.) or related to any
other aspect necessary for the training session to work well.

Practical Exercise
Make a list of working routines that you consider inte-
resting for the organisation of your teams training se-


Explaining the Goals of the Drill

Before each drill, the coach should very briefly explain the goals of the
drill to his/her players, what it is exactly that he/she wants the players to do.

This way, it will be more likely that

the players concentrate on these
goals and work better. And, if the
goals are attractive and attainable,
the players will be more motivated
and will therefore concentrate har-
The explanations given should be
very brief. The players cannot be
standing still for a long time, liste-
ning to the coach give them long
explanations. Coaches need only
tell them, clearly and briefly, what
the drill consists of and what they
have to do.

Controlling Antecedent
Antecedent stimuli are those sti-
muli present in the drill (position
on the court, participating players,
balls, baskets, etc.). In order to control the players attention and get the drill
to achieve its purpose, the coach should make sure that all the stimuli rele-
vant to the goals are present, eliminating those that are irrelevant. In general, the
fewer the stimuli, the greater the concentration.

* Thus, for example, sometimes it would be a good idea to redu-

ce court space, working with small groups of players and limiting
the actions permitted.

Drills with a Simple Structure

Drills with a simple structure help the players to concentrate better on the
goal and the contents of the drill. Drills with a complex structure, on the other
hand, force the players to devote part of their attention to adapting to the
structure, in detriment to concentrating on the key aspects.

* For example: if the aim is to practise shooting, a simple drill

will help the players to concentrate better on the task of shooting.

Practical Exercise
Choose an offensive fundamental and organise a simple
drill to work on it.

Specific Working Rules

Drills can be complicated only, and never excessively, by adding working
rules that serve to centre the players attention on their goal.

* For example: the aim is for the players to dribble using their
weaker hand. Half-court 3 on 3 games are organised, the sole goal
being to dribble with the weak hand. If a player dribbles with the
other hand (the stronger one) his/her team loses possession of the
ball (working rule). This way, the players will pay more attention to
the goal of the drill, which is to dribble only with their weaker hand.

Practical Exercise
Choose an offensive fundamental and organise a simple
drill using a working rule that will help the players to con-
centrate on the specific behaviour that is the objective of
the drill.

Varied Drills
Just as drills using a simple structure help the players to concentrate on
the goal, using the same drill again and again leads to lower motivation and
concentration. For this reason, it is a good idea to vary the drills by changing
either the structure or the goals or both.

* For example: a different drill can be used to keep working on

passing the ball in a straight line, or the same structure can be used
but now to work on dribbling, or the coach can change to another
type of drill to work on dribbling.

Related Drills
If after one drill, another one is done similar to the first in its goal and/or
its structure, the players will be better prepared mentally to perform the
second, especially if the level of attention required progressively increases. Lets
look at an example:
The coach can begin with a drill with a single goal and a limited number
of stimuli: in pairs, reduced space, with one ball per pair; the players
should move without the ball and pass the ball to each other; the pla-
yer receiving the ball should look at the basket while the player who is
passing should immediately change position;
the players continue with another drill having the same goal but with
added stimuli: 2 on 2 situation, playing in a larger but still limited area;
the offensive players should get free to receive the pass. If the defensi-
ve players steal the ball they change to offense and the offense changes
to defense. The goal is still for the players to look at the basket when
receiving the ball and change position as soon as they pass;

the players now move to another drill, keeping a similar structure but
with a different goal: still 2 on 2 but the goal now is to score using left-
hand lay-ups;
the players do another drill, keeping the same structure and combining
the two previous goals: 2 on 2, the players should make at least three pa-
sses before the lay-up; the player receiving should look at the basket;

the player passing changes immediately to another position; players

can only score using left-hand lay-ups;
the players now change to another drill (change of structure) with the
same goals but adding more stimuli: 4 on 4 half-court game; the players
receiving the ball should look at the basket; the players passing should
immediately change position; players must make at least five passes
before doing the lay-up; they can only score using left-hand lay-ups.

Practical Exercise
Organise a sequence of four related drills, changing the
structure or the goal of each one.

Competitive Drills
Organising drills where the players compete among themselves or against
themselves is a way to increase motivation and concentration, as long as they
have enough resources to be successful. Here are some examples:

divide the team into four groups, two at each basket. Organise a com-
petition to see which group does more left-handed lay-ups in three
divide the team into groups of three players each. Each group executes
chest passes running from one basket to the other (at least three or four),
ending with a lay-up. Each basket made is worth two points, with one
point taken away for every pass not made in a straight line or not com-
pleted. The drill is to last five minutes; the point is to see which team
makes more points. The second phase repeats the same drill but the aim
is to see which teams can improve their first-phase score;
two players play 1 on 1 (with specific working rules) until one makes
three baskets;
divide the whole team around all baskets available. The players work
in pairs and shoot simultaneously (the player who shoots gets the ball
and passes to the other player who is waiting, etc.). In three minutes,
they have to make the maximum number of baskets. At the end of the
time limit, the score is recorded. Periodically (once or twice a week) this
drill can be repeated to see if the players can improve their top score
and set a new record.

If used correctly (posing challenges that can really be achieved) and not
used too often, these competitive drills increase motivation while incorpora-
ting into the practice sessions an important element in training young pla-
yers, which is to get them used to competing.

Practical Exercise
Choose an age group (mini-basketball, 13/14-year-olds,
15/18-year-olds) and organise two competitive drills: one
between different players and another in which the pla-
yers compete against themselves. In both cases, keep in
mind that the goal of the competition should be attracti-
ve and attainable.

Enjoyable Drills
Having fun is essential, especially for younger players. In mini-basketball
teams, the coachs main objective should be that the children enjoy themsel-
ves while training. For teams of 13/14-year-olds and 15/18-year-olds, too,
this is a very important objective because serious training is not incompati-
ble with having fun.
Enjoyable drills should not be disorganised or unproductive. Quite the
opposite; they compensate the psychological load of the training session and
help the training process by making use of interesting contents that work be-
tter in this type of drill.
Therefore, doing enjoyable drills is not to be confused with letting each
player do whatever he/she wants or making an effort only when he/she
wants to. Enjoyable drills are those that are attractive to the players, in a rela-
xed, non-stressful setting that allows the player to feel at ease and have a good
time, but they should also have a purpose, working rules and require a cer-
tain level of performance.

* For example: an enjoyable drill for a mini-basketball team

might be the following: a group of players, each with a ball in the
paint; they have to dribble the ball and try to get the other players
ball away without losing their own. The last player wins.

In this type of drill, the players work in a relaxed setting and have fun,
but the drill has a purpose, working rules and requires a degree of perfor-
mance, making it doubly useful: the players have a good time and they are
working on contents that are important to their development as players.

Duration of the Drills

When deciding how long the drills will last, the coach should take into
account aspects such as boredom and psychological fatigue which lead to decrea-
sed concentration.
The drills should last long enough for the players to have enough time to
understand and assimilate the contents, but if they go on too long, concen-
tration decreases and, from that moment, productivity decreases as well. This
is especially important for younger players.
In general, the more attractive drills can last longer while the less attrac-
tive, more routine drills, should be shorter.

Attentional Intensity of the Drills

Concerning attentional intensity, some drills require the players to con-
centrate more than others. If the coach programmes various drills that require

a high level of concentration together in a practice session, the players will

tire and their concentration will decrease.
For this reason, it is important to schedule attentional rest periods through-
out the practice session by either planning complete rest periods or using
drills that do not require a high level of concentration.

Practical Exercise
Design three drills that do not require a high level of con-

Players Participation
The coach should design drills in
which all of the players participate
frequently. For example, it is co-
mmon to see training sessions where
the children are lined up in a long
line to do lay-ups; the children have
to wait more than a minute to have
their five-second turn (sometimes
longer if the coach stops the drill to
correct someone). It is also common
to see practice sessions where some
of the players spend a long time si-
tting down while their companions
play a game.
Even if the resources available are limited (for example, a single ball and
a single basket), the coach has to use his/her imagination to keep his/her pla-
yers actively involved during the entire session (with the intensity that he/she
esteems appropriate in each case). The lack of resources is no excuse, simply
a problem that the coach should compensate for as well as he/she can.

* For example: it is a good idea for the coach to divide the players
into small groups, establishing specific goals for each group. If there
are not enough balls or baskets, he/she will have to set up turns. This
way, some groups can do drills without the ball and without a bas-
ket (defensive moves, fakes without the ball, plays without the ball,
etc.), while others do drills with the ball. Then, the players switch.

The players should never be standing around except for short breaks to
recuperate from an intense effort or if the number of players present makes
this necessary.
If the number of players does not allow all of them to participate at the
same time (for example, there are eleven players and the idea is to play a 5
on 5 game), the players who cannot participate should be the lowest number
possible (in this case, one) and for a very short period, with the players rota-
ting frequently.

Practical Exercises
Organise a drill in which the thirteen mini-basketball pla-
yers who have come to practice are actively involved; you
only have three balls and one basket.
Organise a drill in which the seven 13/14-year-olds who
have come to practice are actively involved; you only
have one ball and two baskets.
Organise a drill in which the twelve 15/16-year-olds who
have come to practice are actively involved, taking maxi-
mum advantage of the available means: five balls and
three baskets.

Test Drills
If the goal of the training session is learning technical or tactical skills, the
coach could include short test drills so that he/she can see how well the pla-
yers have assimilated the work done.
Basically, these drills consist of incorporating more stimuli in such a way
that the players have to concentrate on more requisites. If, when faced with
this more complex situation, the players do not apply the skills that they have
been learning, it would indicate that these skills are not yet sufficiently mas-
tered and consequently, that the players still need specific work in a restric-
ted setting.

* For example: lets consider that, in a previous drill, the players

had the goal of learning to take the decision of making left-hand
lay-ups. They worked half-court in a 2 on 2 game during which
they could only shoot using left-hand lay-ups.

* Now, in the test drill, the coach organises a full-court 4 on 4

drill (more stimuli and consequently, greater demand) and watches
to see if the players make left-hand lay-ups when they have the
chance or if they continue to use their right hand. If the latter be the
case, the coach may conclude that the goal of making left-hand lay-
ups still needs more specific training.

Practical Exercise
Organise a simple drill to work on a fundamental and then
organise a test drill to check up to what point learning has
been consolidated.


At the end of each session, coaches should make a brief evaluation of every-
thing that happened in order to better control their teams training process.
To do this, they could use a simple tool such as can be seen in Table-9, which
permits them to compare their original plan with what actually happened during
the practice and note down their most relevant observations concerning it. In this
way, as soon as the session ends and before they forget anything, they can eva-
luate what took place and reflect on it in writing, in just five or ten minutes.
Obviously there are more sophisticated procedures for evaluating a practice
session. But they will be totally useless if, because of their complexity, the coach
forgets to use them or gives up after a few weeks. It is therefore more realistic for
the coach to use a very simple procedure which he/she can easily incorporate
into his/her daily duties.
The previous procedure can be
completed with a more in-depth
reflection at the end of each week. In
this case, coaches could use a tool
such as that in Table-10 to assess the
work done during practice that
week, dividing it into three catego-
ries: defense, offense and others.
This information will help them con-
trol the weeks events and prepare
the training schedule for the follo-
wing week.


DATE: __________________________
GOALS: _______________________________________________________________



Table 9. After training sessions coaches may compare work planned before the session and
work actually done.









Table 10. Coaches may record work actually done during the week.

Test Exercise-6
Using the information from this chapter, mark the follow-
ing statements True or False. The correct answers are at
the end of the book.

True False
1. Before the training session, the coach should decide on
the goals, later improvising appropriate drills on the
2. Enjoyable drills should not have any rules.
3. The antecedent stimuli of a drill are those which the
coach uses to reward the players.
4. Drills should be varied in terms of goals but not with
respect to structure.
5. In general, organising a training session around relat-
ed drills helps make practice time more productive.
6. Competitive drills can be set up between players or
between groups of players as well as with a player or
a group against himself /herself or themselves.
7. The important thing in competitive drills is to com-
pete, regardless of the goal and the contents.
8. For mini-basketball teams, the goals related to specif-
ic game preparation should be almost as important as
learning goals.
9. Attentional intensity should be high in all drills.
10. Working with small groups simultaneously is not
good because the coach cannot pay attention to every-
one at the same time.
11. Comparing the work done in a session that has just
finished with the work scheduled previously for that
same session helps the coach to control the teams
training process.
12. In general, it is a good idea to combine goals and con-
tents related to offense and defense.
Jose Mara Buceta


Using Reinforcement
Social Reinforcement
Token Economy
Using Aversive Stimuli



Besides planning and evaluating training sessions, it is also important that

the coach manages the players work efficiently during each session. The
following strategies can be used for this purpose.


In general, coaches should have a constructive attitude when leading their

teams practice sessions. Their job is not to reprimand the players when they
do something wrong, nor should they be in a bad mood, and they certainly
should not insult players, make fun of them or ridicule them.
During training sessions, the coachs job is to help the players achieve the
established goals, and to do this, it is essential that his/her constructive atti-
tude be reflected in aspects such as the following:
create a pleasant working environment in which attractive and achie-
vable challenges and positive comments predominate;
accept the fact that the players are not perfect and will therefore make
accept the fact that the players mistakes make up part of their training
and that, therefore, there will always be mistakes;
realise that one or several
explanations will not be
enough to get the players to
do what they want. In many
cases, showing players what
they mean will be more
appropriate and even then, a
period of training will be
necessary before the players
assimilate and master the
information they receive;
understand that each young
player learns at his/her own
pace, and they must help
each one, respecting that
pace, without underestima-
ting those who learn more
slowly or with greater diffi-
always have a realistic pers-
pective concerning what they
can and should require of the

appreciate and emphasise the efforts made by the players more than
the results obtained. If the players try, and the coach controls the trai-
ning process, sooner or later he/she will see an improvement;
notice and highlight improvements rather than defects;
be patient when things do not turn out as expected and encourage the
players to try again;
objectively analyse the players mistakes and difficult situations that
arise during the training process in order to reach productive conclu-
sions. Mistakes and difficult situations are excellent opportunities to
know how things are going, what aspects have to be worked on or what
should be modified;
always treat the players with respect and affection, no matter what ha-

This behaviour will allow coaches to win the respect of their young pla-
yers and carry out their work more efficiently.

Practical Exercise
Think about how you usually lead your teams training
sessions and whether your attitude could be more cons-


To lead training drills, the coach may follow a procedure such as the follo-

explain the drill and its purpose to the players;

in some cases, give a practical demonstration of what is to be done so
that the players can watch and better understand the goal;
establish the working rules of the drill;
at the beginning of the drill, observe if the players have understood
what it is about; if they have not, stop the drill and explain again;
if they have understood the drill, leave them to do it for a while without
correcting them. This way, the coach can evaluate the level at which the
aim of the drill stands, as well as the players attentional level;

this evaluation enables the coach to see if he/she has introduced too
many stimuli at the same time, making it difficult for the players to con-
centrate on the aim of the drill. In this case, he/she should redo the
drill, eliminating stimuli that can perhaps be reintroduced later on, once
the players have assimilated key concepts;
during the drill, the coach should not disturb the players concentra-
tion with his/her instructions and comments, but use these to centre
their attention on key aspects of the drill;
the coach should not act like a radio commentator, broadcasting minute-
by-minute instructions to the players, but rather allow them to produce
their own mental processes necessary for the development of the drill;
the coach should talk to the players during breaks in the drill rather
than while they are actively participating (for example, wait until the
player has completed a fast-break before correcting him/her);
the coach should use appropriate verbal and non-verbal behaviour (for
example, look at the players when speaking to them, using the appro-
priate volume);
the coach should ask the appropriate questions and make suitable
reminders to help the players concentration;
the coach should give the players feedback on their behaviour;
if necessary, the coach may record the players performance;
the coach must reinforce the players in order to strengthen the learning
process and give them credit for their efforts.

Some of these strategies have been discussed in the previous chapter

(explaining the purpose of a drill, establishing working rules). Others will be
discussed in the following sections.


Young players tend to observe the coachs behaviour and that of other pla-
yers, learning through imitation. For this reason, modeling is a very useful
strategy for strengthening the players motivation and showing them what is
to be learned.
Basically, modeling consists of presenting the player or the team with a
significant model as an example to imitate, emphasising or demonstrating the
specific behaviour to be imitated.

* For example: the coach of a mini-basketball team (significant

model) can show his/her players how to pass the ball so that they
imitate him/her. This way, it will be easier for the players to
understand what the coach wants them to do.

* Another example: the coach of a team of 13/14-year-olds can talk

to his/her players about other players who are significant to them (top-
class players or 15/18-year-olds on a team in the same club) to explain
that these players too had to do the defense drills that they are now
doing. This way, the young players will be much more motivated for
a task, defense drills, that at first was not very attractive to them.

A distinction should be made between two types of models: expert models

and mastery models. Expert models are prestigious players or teams. Mastery
models are players or teams closer to the players themselves who, although
not yet recognised experts, have a higher level.

* For example: an international player could be an expert model,

while a player on a cadet team (15/16-year-olds) who was on the
13/14-year-old team in the same club two years earlier, could be a
good mastery model.

The example of an expert model

can be very motivating at first, but
if it is a superior player who is too
distant, the players may consider
imitation of this model impossible.
For this reason, it is a good idea to
use expert models to increase the pla-
yers motivation and at the same
time, find mastery models that the
players feel more identified with. In
this way, interest in imitating the
model is linked with the perception
that it is really possible to imitate.
Young players tend to imitate
any behaviour of the models they
find attractive. However, it is impor-
tant that coaches emphasise the
behaviour they consider most rele-
vant within the context of the trai-
ning session. It is not a question of
simply talking about the best players
but rather emphasising their basket-

ball behaviours and hard work, making them an example for the players to imi-
tate, and reinforcing these comments with examples of closer models.

* Thus, before starting a drill, the coach can demonstrate a specific

movement for the players to imitate indicating, at the same time, that
this is one of the fundamentals most often used by a famous player (as
long as this is true). This strategy can be very useful for young players.

* Taking advantage of the players interest in a particular pla-

yer, the coach can emphasise the specific behaviour that helps this
player to be successful, demonstrating it himself /herself or getting
an older player to demonstrate it.

Sometimes, models can be found within the team itself. In fact, many pla-
yers learn by observing and imitating their teammates.
As we have already seen, the coach can also be an excellent model. The coach
of a young team, especially mini-basketball and 13/14-year-old teams, should
be able to demonstrate basketball fundamentals (passing, dribbling, etc.) so
that his/her players can observe and imitate the correct movements.
Sometimes, as a complement, the coach can use videos showing expert
and mastery models to be imitated.

Practical Exercise
Make up a list of fundamentals you can show your pla-
yers, acting as a model yourself.


Instructions and comments made to the players during practice sessions

should be short, clear and precise, avoiding long, ambiguous and vague ins-
tructions and comments. The coach should concentrate on what he/she wants
to say, and say it clearly so that the players understand him/her and con-
centrate on the task at hand.
For this purpose, he/she should adapt the language he/she uses to the
players level, avoiding the use of words or concepts that they have not mas-
tered, or talking to them as if he/she were giving a clinic or taking part in a
meeting with other coaches.

* For example: if, when explaining a 2 on 2 drill, the coach refers

to faking, he/she should make sure that the players understand
exactly what he/she means by this.

If the coachs instructions and comments centre solely, specifically and

clearly on the purpose of every drill, it is much more likely that the players
will concentrate on the important aspects of the drill and thus perform better.
However, the opposite will occur if the coach interferes in the players con-
centration by giving them instructions and making comments related to other

* For example: if the purpose of a drill is for the players to move

quickly to fast-break, the most appropriate thing during the drill is
for the coach to refer only to this aspect, without suddenly deciding
to correct or comment on other aspects of the game. This way, the
coach will help the players to concentrate on the goal of the drill.

Along these lines, the coach should concentrate on the players target beha-
viours, not on results, because the coach should directly influence the sports
behaviour (what the players do) and not the results (what the players achie-
ve with their behaviour).

* For example: the players are doing a 1 on 1 drill. The coach

should centre his/her instructions and comments on the decisions
and/or the execution of the movements involved, not on baskets

It is also useful for the coach to give instructions that are directly related
with the attentional behaviour the players should use.

* For example: Watch the player and the ball at the same
time!, Concentrate on the centre!, etc.

This way, the coach reminds the players of the attentional demands of the
task and influences their attentional behaviour.


Usually, when a coach corrects a player, he/she should tell him/her what
he/she has done wrong or what he/she should do to improve next time; in other
words, the coach gives solutions that the player can assimilate to mistakes made.

In many cases, this behaviour is appropriate, especially when the players do

not know the correct solutions and this is the only way for them to learn.
However, if the players already know the solutions, an efficient strategy for cen-
tring their attention on the goal of the drill and make them assimilate the infor-
mation is to ask questions so that the players themselves find the correct answers.

* For example: lets take a lay-up learning drill for mini-bas-

ketball children. The coach wants them to step on their right foot
when receiving the ball. A child does a lay-up and does not do this.
Instead of pointing this out, the coach asks him/her, What foot did
you step with?... Which foot should you have used?... Are you
sure?.., etc. This type of questions forces the child to find the ans-
wer himself/herself, thus leading him/her to pay more attention
the next time.

Maybe the first time the coach asks the question the player will not know
the answer because he/she was not paying enough attention, but his/her con-
centration will increase from then on in order to correctly answer successive
questions. Besides, his/her teammates concentration will probably improve
too, once they assimilate the fact that the coach may ask them questions too.
The questions system can be complemented by reminding the player
what he/she has to do immediately before he/she begins (Remember that
the aim is to step with your right foot when receiving the ball). If the pla-
yer has enough information, this previous reminder can also take the form
of a question (What foot should
you use when receiving the
ball?); in both cases, the players
will centre their attention on the
key aspect of the drill right before
Both strategies, questions and
reminders, are especially useful
when dealing with unconsolidated
skills requiring more intense cons-
cious attention, or at specific moments
when the coach perceives attention
The questions should follow the
players behaviour as soon as possi-
ble (immediately after the player
acts), and previous reminders (with or
without a question) should precede
the following actions immediately
before the action takes place.


Recording of the players performance during training drills help them to

concentrate on the behaviour recorded.

* For example: if the coach records, on a board or a sheet of

paper, the times that each target behaviour is performed during a
drill (specific passes, blocks, shots, etc.), the players will pay more
attention to these behaviours and produce them more frequently.
The same will occur if the coach accumulates records of the beha-
viours he/she considers more important.

In order to achieve this positive effect, the criteria to be used for recording
should be very clear.
When dealing with behaviours to be learned, the criteria selected should refer
to the players specific behaviour, rather than the results obtained.

* For instance: a record can be kept of the number of times

15/16-year-olds screen correctly (behaviour), regardless of whether
the screen serves to make a basket (the result of the behaviour). In
this way, the players will concentrate more intensely on the target
behaviour of the drill which, in this case, is screening.

As an example, Table-11 includes a tool that can be used to take note of

the players target behaviours.
However, when dealing with the repetitive practice of behaviours that have
already been mastered, it might be more appropriate to record the results of
such behaviours; these should always be results that depend on the behaviour
that the players are working on.

* For example: during a repetitive shooting drill performed by

a team of 17/18-year-olds, made baskets can be recorded. This way,
it is more likely that the players will concentrate on the drill and
not shoot carelessly.

Practical Exercise
Devise a worksheet to record the frequency of a target
behaviour in a practice drill.







Table 11. Example of tool to record the frecuency of the behaviour passing and moving
away in three drills during one training session.


Feedback is the information the players receive concerning what they are
doing. For example, a player decides to use a specific pass to a teammate and
the coach comments on that pass. In this case, the coach is providing the pla-
yer with feedback on the pass used.
Feedback is an important element in maintaining and strengthening the pla-
yers motivation, and in helping them to learn. This way, a player or a team that
is motivated for a specific goal (for example, improving their fast-break) and that
is making the effort to achieve this goal, needs precise information on their beha-
viour in order to strengthen their motivation and make the goal more attainable.
Feedback allows players, even very young ones, to control their own pro-
gress towards the goals established.

When feedback is favourable, it is rewarding, indicating that the

action performed is correct and that, therefore, it should be repe-
ated, thus strengthening motivation to continue making the effort.
When it is unfavourable, it helps the player to know which specific
behaviour should be improved and how to do it; it also motivates
him/her if he/she perceives that improvement is within his/her
reach. Unfavourable feedback should include information the pla-
yers need to know in order to improve in successive attempts.

Players may receive feedback from different sources. For example, by

means of results obtained, by watching a video, through comments made by
others or by their own feelings. However, to apply it as a technique means
that the coach should control it properly, avoiding or minimising incorrect
indications that the players may receive.
Basically, the coach can use verbal feedback, videos (properly controlled),
appropriate objective recording of performance, and any other procedure that
provides immediate information on the target behaviour.

* For example: in order to improve precision in passing, the

coach can place a target at a specific distance (a mark on a wall) and
establish the goal of hitting the target. The result of each throw
(hitting the target, getting close, throwing to one side, etc.) will be
excellent feedback for the players taking part in this drill.

* Another example: the coach wants the players to keep their

shooting arm elbow at its side when shooting, so he/she places
them parallel to a wall, with their shooting arm next to it. From
there, they must shoot into an imaginary or real basket. The player
who sticks out his/her elbow will hit the wall, while the player who
keeps his/her elbow in the proper position will not. In both cases,
the players are getting excellent feedback.

Using a video to film certain parts of the practice that are especially impor-
tant can also be used, basically with 15/18-year-olds. Later, the coach revises
the video, choosing certain parts to show the players.
The viewing session should be set up before the next practice in which the
players will again be working on the aspects filmed. In this way, the players
will receive information on one or several behaviours that they will have to
perform on the court immediately afterwards. These viewing sessions should
not be long (in general, between five and ten minutes) nor frequent. If they
are short and sporadic, they will be more meaningful to the players and the-
refore more valuable.

* For example: the coach of a junior team (17/18-year-olds) feels that

it is important to provide feedback to his centres on their movements
on the high post. He sets up a drill for this purpose and an assistant
coach films it. Later, the assistant coach selects some parts of the video.
Another drill to work on this same aspect has been progra-
mmed for two days later. Before the session, the centres meet with
the coach or his assistant coach and watch the selected images for
five minutes. The coach takes advantage of the moment to comment
on what they are seeing and invites the players to air their doubts
and make suggestions.
When the meeting ends, the players go out onto the court and
join their teammates. Later, when the coach organises drills to work
on high post movements, the players will be focused and their per-
formance will improve.

Practical Exercise
Think of three examples of procedures that may provide
immediate feedback to the players of a mini-basketball team
or a team of 13/14-year-olds during a training session.


The use of rewarding or aversive stimuli contingent on players behaviour

(that is, as a result of this behaviour) is a very efficient strategy to enhance or
reduce target behaviours.

* For example: the coach can congratulate a player, in which

case he/she is making use of a rewarding stimulus, or he/she can
decide that a particular player has to pick up the balls after practi-
ce, applying, in this case, an aversive stimulus.

The principal purpose of the psychological techniques undertaken by this

strategy is to contribute to learning relevant behaviours.

If the purpose of the learning process is the adquisition or perfecting of

behaviour (for example, improving shooting technique), as soon as po-
ssible after a player produces proper behaviour, either a rewarding sti-
mulus should be applied (positive reinforcement) or an aversive stimu-
lus should be withdrawn (negative reinforcement) in order to reinforce the
behaviour so that the player will repeat it.
In the same way, if the aim is to eliminate a certain kind of behaviour
(for example, protesting to the referee), when the player produces this
behaviour an aversive stimulus should be applied (positive punish-
ment) or a rewarding stimulus should be withdrawn (negative punish-
ment) so that the behaviour will be less likely to be produced in the

In both cases, rewarding and aversive stimuli should only be applied con-
tingent upon the athletes behaviour, never on their results (that is, behaviour

will be reinforced or punished, not the results of that behaviour). Several

examples follow:

* A 13-year-old player makes a decision that the coach considers

correct in a 3 on 3 situation. The coach immediately congratulates
her (rewarding stimuli), applying positive reinforcement so that the
player will repeat the decision in the future.

* The players of a team of 17/18-year-olds are carrying out a

very intense defense drill and they are tired. A player performs a
defensive help that the coach wants to develop. As a reward, the
coach allows the player to rest for a few minutes. In this case, the
coach is withdrawing an aversive stimulus (performing such an
intense drill when the players are tired), applying negative reinfor-
cement so that the player will repeat the defensive help.

* The coach wants a 17-year-old to defend without making per-

sonal fouls. Besides showing him the corresponding technique, he
sets up a drill in which the player gets a point every time he makes
a foul. At the end of the practice, the player will have to stay on for
a three-minute defense drill for every point accumulated.
In this case, the coach is using an aversive stimulus (the point
given and having to stay on to do defense drills) as a means of apply-
ing positive punishment to help eliminate the behaviour of making
personal fouls.
At the same time, every time the player defends without
making a foul, the coach reinforces him by saying well done! to
strengthen correct defensive behaviour.

* The coach of a team of 15/16-year-olds organises a half court

3 on 3 game in which she does not want the players to use their
right hand when they should use their left. Every time a player uses
her right hand when she shouldnt, her team loses possession of the
This way, the coach is withdrawing a rewarding stimulus (the
ball), applying negative punishment to eliminate the behaviour (using
the right hand).
At the same time, when the players do use their left hand, the
coach applies social reinforcement (well done!) for the purpose
of strengthening this correct behaviour.

As can be seen, reinforcement is used to strengthen desired behaviour and

punishment is used to eliminate undesired behaviour. Also, when punishment
is applied, it is very important to reinforce alternative behaviour to substitu-
te the undesired behaviour at the same time (in the previous examples, defen-
sive behaviour without fouling and using the left hand).
Mainly, it is better to work with reinforcement to strengthen behaviour
rather than punishment to eliminate behaviour, especially with younger pla-
yers. However, properly applied punishment can be very valuable in the trai-
ning of young players.

Practical Exercises
Think of a way of reinforcing behaviour you wish to
strengthen. Clearly define the behaviour, the stimuli to be
applied contingently and the means of applying these sti-
muli. Remember that the stimuli should be applied as
soon as possible.
Think of a way of punishing behaviour you wish to eli-
minate. Clearly define the behaviour, the stimuli to be
applied contingently and the means of applying these sti-
muli. Remember that, at the same time, you should rein-
force alternative behaviour to substitute the behaviour to
be eliminated. Define this alternative behaviour and the
stimuli to be applied contingently in order to reinforce it.

Using Reinforcement
Frequent reinforcement helps the players obtain a high level of gratification.
This is a valuable benefit which strengthens their motivation to the sport and
helps them learn target behaviours. This is why it is so important for coaches
to use reinforcement frequently.
Stimuli used to reinforce are called reinforcers, with a distinction being
made between social and material reinforcers.

Social reinforcers include respect, recognition, approval and the coachs

attention; for example, the coach appreciates the effort made by a pla-
yer to recuperate the ball, Well done!, Thats the way!, Good!.
Material reinforcers are tangible objects that should be important to the
players; for example, rest periods, being able to skip a difficult or boring
drill, choosing the drill they want to do, winning a cup, etc.

Both types of reinforcers are compatible and can be perfectly combined.

* For example: the coach of a junior team (17/18-year-olds) can

recognise the players efforts in a very intense drill (social reinfor-
cement) and simultaneously end the practice early (material rein-

Reinforcers should not be applied arbitrarily but rather as a consequen-

ce of the players behaviour. In fact, the key to reinforcement is that the pla-
yers perceive that they are obtaining something thanks to what they are doing.

This way, they achieve very valuable personal gratification and will know
how to achieve it again in the future.
And, as has already been pointed out, the most valuable reinforcement is
that which is given immediately after the behaviour which is being rewarded is
For all of these reasons, the coach should apply the reinforcement as soon
as possible, stating the reason for which it is being applied in order to avoid any

* For example: after a good fake by a player, the coach could say,
Good, Peter, that was a good fake!.

Social Reinforcement
As with material reinforcement, social reinforcement should be applied
immediately after the behaviour which the coach wishes to strengthen.

* For example: the coach wants the players on a mini-basketball

team to look at the hoop every time they receive the ball; whenever
this behaviour is performed, the coach says aloud, Thats the way,

Social reinforcement should not be applied indiscriminately but rather as

a consequence of the behaviour that has improved (even slightly) in the per-
sonal progress of each player.

* For example: a mini-basketball player who does not usually go

down to defend runs back at the same time as her teammates during
a particular play. This is an excellent opportunity for the coach to
apply social reinforcement with this player: Well done Julia!.

It is important for coaches working with young players to be alert to oppor-

tunities to apply social reinforcement. This way they will be correctly using a
very efficient tool.
During training sessions, social reinforcement is very valuable for three

it provides the player with information on his/her behaviour (feedback);

it is very rewarding, because the player appreciates the coachs recog-
it contributes to the creation of a positive atmosphere within the trai-
ning environment.
For these reasons, social reinforcement influences the players motivation
and concentration, making it a work tool that the coach should use gene-

Social reinforcement is especially important for childrens teams and in

fact, those coaches who use it frequently make the experience of sports
more satisfying and productive in every sense for the children.

Social reinforcement also helps children to learn the target behaviours pro-
grammed; therefore, their sports performance improves significantly when
this strategy is used.

Practical Exercise
Watch a childrens coach and note down the number of
times he/she uses social reinforcement with his/her pla-
yers. Take note too of the chances he/she has to use this
strategy but doesnt.

Token Economy
On one hand, we know how important it is to apply reinforcement as soon
as possible. But on the other hand, the coach cannot continuously stop the
practice in order to apply reinforcement. The technique known as Token
Economy solves this problem.
Every time the target behaviour is produced, a point is given. The points
are added up and allow the player to obtain an attractive reward later. Thus,
each point reinforces the target behaviour.

* For example: the coach wants 15/16-year-olds to pass the ball

more often to the post from specific positions on the court, and he
organises a 4 on 4 half court game for this purpose. He establishes
that, every time a player passes the ball to the post from those posi-
tions, the players team gets a point. At the end of the game, which
lasts ten minutes, the team that has made a minimum of seven
points will have a five-minute break.

* Points will have to be noted immediately after each time the

behaviour of passing the ball to the post is produced. To do this,
every time the ball is passed from the established positions, the
coach should yell out, point!, and note down the corresponding
point, if possible on a board visible to the players.

To make this technique work, the following aspects should be taken into
The reward should be attractive.
For example, it would be attractive for the players to be able to rest
during an intense training session or play a game where they can
pick their teammates. Meeting the challenge posed by the drill (in
the previous example, achieving a minimum of seven points) would
also be attractive.

To make this strategy more valuable, the coach should take into
account the age of his/her players and what he/she knows about
them (what do they like?). He/she should consider that, in general,
an infrequent stimulus will be more attractive to them than a frequent
one; for example, it will be more attractive for them to play a game
with no rules, in which they choose their teammates, if they do not
often do this than if they have already played several games like this
during the same practice.
The total number of points needed to obtain the final award should be
attainable in the time allowed and under the conditions of the drill.
In the previous example, there should be enough time so that, under
the conditions set for this drill (space in which the game is played,
number of players, specific rules) the players have the opportunity
to pass to the post as often (and more) as the points needed to achie-
ve the goal.
The precise behaviour and the antecedent stimuli necessary to obtain
points should be made very clear.
In the previous example, the behaviour is to pass the ball to the
post and the antecedent stimuli are the areas established by the
coach (and no others) from which the ball should be passed. Only
when the behaviour is produced under these antecedent stimuli will
the point be granted; that is, only when the ball is passed to the post
from those positions on the court.
Before starting the drill, the players should know exactly what the time
limit and the goals are, and the conditions of the Token Economy pro-
gramme; that is, the target behaviour (including antecedent stimuli) by
which they can obtain points, the final reward and the number of points
necessary to obtain it.
The concession of each point should be immediate.
For this, without stopping the drill, the coach or assistant coach
assigned to this task should yell out, Point! as soon as the target beha-
viour is produced, without waiting for the result. In the previous exam-
ple, the coach would yell, Point! as soon as a player passes the ball
to the post from the established positions and preferably before kno-
wing the result of the action (for example, before noting if the post
took advantage of the pass to score).
Sometimes, to clarify the relationship between the behaviour and the point,
it would be a good idea for the coach to call out the point and the rea-
son it has been given; for example, Point for passing the ball!.
It is advisable to use a scoreboard or blackboard that is visible to all of
the players for registering points. If a scoreboard or blackboard is not
available, the coach can note down the points on a piece of paper and

every once in awhile, whenever there is a pause, indicate to the players

the number of points they have accumulated.

Practical Exercises
Design a Token Economy programme for a mini-basketball
training session.
Design a Token Economy programme for a training session
of 13/14-year-olds.
Design a Token Economy programme for a training session
of 15/16-year-olds or 17/18-year-olds.

Using Aversive Stimuli

We have said that a coach who is working with young players should pre-
dominately apply reinforcement, but the psychological technique of punish-
ment can also be useful and educational, as long as it fulfills the following con-

it should be proportiona-
te in value and basically
it should be previously
established, defining as
clearly as possible what
it involves and why it is
being applied (rather than
having the coach decide
it should serve the purpo-
se of increasing the pla-
yers interest in challen-
ging goals related to avoi-
ding the punishment;
avoiding the punishment
should be within the reach
of the players performan-
ce capabilities;

at the same time, reinforcement should be applied to strengthen alter-

native behaviour.

* For example: before starting a 3 on 3 game, the coach could

establish that every time a player dribbles with the wrong hand she
gets a negative point and that, at the end of the game, the team with
the most points will have to carry the other team on piggyback.

Avoidance of this basically symbolic aversive contingency will increase

the players motivation towards the goal of the drill and will help them to
concentrate on not dribbling with the wrong hand. At the same time, the
coach can use social reinforcement (Well done!) every time a player uses
the correct hand.

Therefore, the importance of punishment is not to penalise the players

to make the coach look tough or show that he/she is strict, but rather to
provoke that avoiding punishment constitute a motivating challenge for the
players, getting them to concentrate particularly on the behaviour to be


Recording the behaviour of the coach leading the training session is an

interesting exercise. A trusted observer can do this or the practice session can
be recorded on video for the coach to later watch. For this purpose, a tool like
that shown in Table-12 can be used.
This type of observation is useful for the coach to know how he/she trains
and to think about changes he/she should adopt to improve his/her me-
Using this or other procedures, it is important for coaches to periodically
assess their behaviour if they want to perfect their working methods and
improve their performance as a coach.

Practical Exercise
Observe a coach during a training session and record
his/her behaviour, using a tool similar to that shown in


1 2 3 4 5 6 7

1. Explains the goal of the drill

2. Explains the drills working rules

3. Looks at the players when speaking to them

4. Acts as model to demonstrate the target behaviour

5. Centres his/her verbal behaviour on the goal of the drill

6. Gives clear, unambiguous instructions

7. Gives precise, to-the-point instructions

8. Uses appropriate tone, volume and speed of voice

9. Centres on the players behaviour, not their results

10. Highlights the relevant antecedent stimuli

11. Uses questions when the players already have the

information they need

12. Makes a distinction between decision and execution

13. Provides immediate, constructive feedback

14. Correctly uses social reinforcement

15. Correctly applies reinforcement and punishment

16. Uses objective performance recording

17. Encourages the players

18. (Other)

19. (Other)

Table 12. Tool for registering the coachs behaviour during training drills. Taken from
Psicologa del Entrenamiento Deportivo, by J.M. Buceta. Madrid: Dykinson, 1998.

Test Exercise-7:
Based on the information contained in this chapter, state
whether the following are True or False. The correct ans-
wers are at the end of the book.

True False
1. Ridiculing a player in front of teammates is a good
motivating strategy.
2. Once the coach has explained to the players what they
have to do, they usually do it immediately.
3. The coach should assess and emphasise players
behaviour more than their results.
4. When a star player is used as a role model, it is impor-
tant to highlight specific behaviour that young play-
ers should imitate.
5. While the players are doing drills, the coach should
correct any mistakes he/she sees.
6. Players learn more quickly if the coach is constantly
telling them what they have to do.
7. Recording of performance during training drills helps
the players to concentrate on the behaviour recorded.
8. Feedback allows players, even very young ones, to
control their progress.
9. Positive reinforcement helps to acquire or perfect
behaviour, and negative reinforcement to eliminate
10. Reinforcement should be applied as soon as possible
after the behaviour which the coach wants to strength-
en is produced.
11. Coaches who work with young players should be gen-
erous in their use of social reinforcement.
12. Token Economy should only be used with 15/18-year-
13. The purpose of punishment is for the players to get
used to discipline.
14. When applying punishment to eliminate behaviour,
reinforcement to strengthen alternative behaviour
should be applied simultaneously.
Jose Mara Buceta


Preparing for the Game
Kind of Comments
Periods of Active Participation
Helping Players Concentration
Kind of Comments
Pauses in Game Time

In a previous chapter, we said that coaches should understand the func-

tion of games within the context of their teams activities and consequently,
programme games to fulfill this function.
It is also important that coaches control their own behaviour during games.
The coach is not a fan and should not behave as one. The coach is an expert
who should control his/her behaviour to make the games, whatever their
function, a valuable experience for his/her team.


As with training sessions, coaches working with young players should

have an objective, constructive and positive attitude towards basketball games:

Objective, because they should objectively assess what their players

can do (before the game), what they are doing (during the game) and
what they have done (after the game).
Constructive, because whatever happens during the game, coaches
should use it so that their players, both individually and collectively,
obtain benefits that will influence their athletic and human development.
Positive, because, without losing objectivity, the game is not the
moment to make an in-depth analysis of mistakes but to emphasise the
players positive behaviour and to encourage them to do things with-
out being afraid of failing.
Coaches should be very clear as to what they can realistically expect from
their players and not demand more from them; they should assume that the
players will make many mistakes which are natural considering their obvious
limitations and also the following facts:

the best players in the world, during their best games, have
missed shots that seemed easy. How can a coach get angry with
young players when they miss shots that seem easy?
the best players make mistakes when passing and lose balls.
How can a coach get angry with young players when they make
mistakes passing and lose the ball?

Many coaches who work with young players lose the appropriate pers-
pective and the self-control that they should have during games when their
players make perfectly normal mistakes, and instead of concentrating on
aspects that should be made taken advantage of, they stress the players by
making unproductive comments that increase their insecurity, turning the
game into an aversive experience.

In fact, many young players

who start out enthusiastically pla-
ying mini-basketball or basketball
lose this enthusiasm and, in many
cases, quit, because games become
very stressful experiences that they
cannot deal with. The coachs beha-
viour is an essential element in
avoiding this problem and in ge-
tting games to be positive, whate-
ver the result.
Therefore, the coach should
establish realistic goals for the game
and realise that certain aspects will
not go well:

some because this is normal

considering the players level,
since they will not be able to
do more than what they are
capable of;
others because this is normal bearing in mind that, in this sport, there
is an inevitable margin of error that has to be accepted; that is, no ma-
tter how well prepared the players are, mistakes will be made in areas
of the game that they have mastered, as occurs with the best players.

So coaches should be prepared to tolerate their players mistakes and con-

tinue to coach the game without letting those mistakes to affect them emo-
Coaches should also be prepared to make constructive use of the experience
of the game, whatever it may be:

on one hand, reinforcing positive aspects so that the players will repeat
on the other hand, observing what goes wrong and what can realisti-
cally be improved, in order to work on it in later practice sessions.

Games are not the appropriate environment for correcting serious mista-
kes (that is what practice is for) and, therefore, it is useless for the coach to
waste his/her energy on this; furthermore, by doing this, the coach will only
harm the players performance.
During a game, coaches should concentrate on positive aspects, reinforcing
them so that they will be repeated, and limit themselves to correcting details
that can realistically be changed.

Nor should coaches spend too much time on past plays (this can be done
later, when they analyse the entire game) but concentrate on the present and the
future of the game.
The important thing is not what has already happened and cannot be
changed, but what is happening right now or what could happen during the
rest of the game.

* For example: what is important is not that the opposing team

has scored several baskets using fast-breaks, but to use this expe-
rience so that this will no longer occur from that moment on.

* Therefore, the coach should not worry about baskets scored

by the opposing team or recriminate his/her players because of
this, but rather give them constructive instructions with contents
that the players have mastered in order to correct or reduce this
problem for the rest of the game.

This objective, constructive and positive outlook is very important in

order to efficiently lead young players teams in every aspect.

Practical Exercises
Think about how mistakes made by your players affect
you and remember your reactions.
Reflect on what you expect from your players during
games. Do you establish realistic goals? Do you simply
demand of them what they can realistically do? Do you
accept that they will make mistakes?
Consider whether you use the experience of each game in
such a way that your young players continue to progress
regardless of the score and of success or mistakes made.
Do you take advantage of games that generally went
well? Do you take advantage of games that generally
went badly?


As we have already said, before the game the coach should decide on the
goals of the game and have realistic expectations concerning his/her players
possible performance. What can I expect of them? Is this realistic? What can
they really do?

Preparing for the Game

As an example, Table-13 provides a tool that could be useful for the coach
in preparing for a game:

first of all, coaches should specify the goals and plans for the game
(obviously bearing in mind their teams characteristics and general
secondly, coaches should anticipate the most likely problems to arise during
the game (for example, a mini-basketball coach could anticipate that
his/her players will lose the ball when the opposing team pressures them);
thirdly, coaches should decide what they will do to offset these problems
(in the previous case, for example, tell the players not to worry and
encourage them even when they lose the ball).

By anticipating possible problems, these will not take the coach by surprise,
so he/she will not get angry at the players and he/she will know what to do
when difficulties arise during the game.




Table 13. Example of tool to prepare for games. Coach should establish goals and plans, anti-
cipate possible difficulties and be ready when the difficulties appear.

By deciding what to do if problems arise, the coach can prepare a strategy (for
teams with more resources) or prepare the strategy that he/she will use when
coaching the game.
The previous example shows what can happen with a mini-basketball
team. It would be absurd for the coach to try to prepare a basketball strategy
to offset the negative effects of a possibly press defense on the part of the
opposing team, because it is unlikely that his/her players will be prepared to
assimilate it. However, it is appropriate that the coach know beforehand what
he/she will do in his/her role as coach when this problem arises to make the
game a positive experience in any case.
Depending on the level of the players and the type of difficulties, basket-
ball strategies can perhaps be prepared for older basketball teams but, in any
case, it is important that the coach prepare the strategy that he/she will adopt
in his/her role as coach directing the game.

Practical Exercise
During your teams next game, prepare yourself before-
hand, following the guidelines set out here: decide on
your teams goals and plans for that game; anticipate the
most likely problems; and decide what you will do if
these problems arise.

Kind of Comments
Coaches should also be careful of their behaviour with respect to the pla-
yers. What does the coach say to them? How does he/she control their expec-
tations? How does he/she avoid the players making the game more impor-
tant than it is? Lets look at some suggestions:

in general, it is important for the coach to maintain a balanced atti-

tude around the players, with respect to the games;
it is not a good idea to talk too much about the game beforehand,
nor refer to the possible score, especially using stressful com-
ments such as, Weve got to win next Saturday;
the coach should remind the players that the important thing is
for them to enjoy themselves and do the best they can;
the coach could also tell the players that, whatever happens, it is
important for them to continue to improve, so they should con-
centrate on what they have to do and forget about the score
(Whatever happens, we do our thing.).

At such moments, it is important

for the coach to strengthen the pla-
yers perception of control. To do this,
he/she should avoid referring to
aspects that they cannot directly con-
trol (the final score) and concentrate
on controllable aspects, basically own
behaviours that they have mastered.
Thus, the teams goals before a
game should be only performance
goals, and the coachs instructions
and comments should be centred
solely on the players behaviour.
Also, right before a game, the
coach should keep in mind that the
players tend to be nervous, anxious
for the game to start, and that
under these conditions their atten-
tional capacity is very reduced, so
he/she should avoid trying to
transmit too much information or
complex information.
At times like these, coaches should limit themselvesf to reminding the pla-
yers of three or four key aspects of the game, briefly outlining the specific
behaviour that they consider essential and which the players have mastered.

Practical Exercise
Using the contents discussed in this section, think about
what you should tell your players before the game.


During a game, the coachs behaviour can decisively influence the players
performance, either postively or negatively. How should the coach behave so
that his/her players do their best and make the game a beneficial experience?
Following are some suggestions, differentiating periods of active partici-
pation from pauses:

periods of active participation are those during which the players are pla-
pauses are those other periods when play is stopped (after a personal
foul, time-outs, half-time, etc.).

Periods of Active Participation

During periods of active participation, the coachs behaviour can interfe-
re negatively with the appropriate performance of the players.

* For example: the coach who, from the sidelines, reciminates

his/her players or gives them instructions during these periods,
may make them more nervous or distract their attention from the
game. Thus, he/she will favour players mistakes.

For this reason, it is better for the coaches to talk to the players during
pauses and not during periods of active participation.
In any case, if they feel that they should speak to them during the periods
of active participation, they should refer to what the players should do at that
moment, not to aspects that have already occurred and that may be important
later on but which right then are not relevant.

* For example: lets think of a player who made a mistake while

playing defense, allowing the player he was guarding to score. The
coach gets angry and gets up from the bench to recriminate the pla-
yer for what has happened, warning him to pay attention next time.
While this is happening, the team is attacking: the players have
rapidly taken the ball and they are now moving forwards to get a
good shot. Hearing the coach, the player who made the mistake
gets nervous and distracted, so when he gets the ball he makes a
wrong decision and loses it.
What happened? Although perhaps the coach was right in
telling the player off, he did it at the wrong time, and this had a
negative effect on the players performance in the following play.

Helping Players Concentration

Continuing with this example, even if the coach had not recriminated the
player for his mistake, simply by referring to an aspect that is distinct from

what is happening at the moment, he will have favoured a division of the pla-
yers attention between two very different types of stimuli:

on one hand, the player has to listen to and assimilate what the coach
is telling him concerning the defensive error;
on the other hand, he has to observe the stimuli that are key in execu-
ting the offensive task at hand.

The coachs intervention would have been more efficient if, instead of
acting impulsively, he had mastered the skill of using his comments to posi-
tive effect.

* For example: it would have been more appropriate not to say

anything at that moment, allowing the player to concentrate on the
offensive task at hand, and make a constructive comment on the
defense immediately before the next defensive play.
This way, the coach would not have altered the players con-
centration while he was participating in the offensive play, and the
coachs comment would have been much more efficient in avoiding
another error if it had been made at the right moment.

Therefore, if the coach transmits instructions during periods of active par-

ticipation, these should be related to the task that the players are performing
at the moment at which they receive them (not the other way around).
Because basketball is a sport in which defense and offense situations alter-
nate, coaches should be careful to give, during these periods, instructions con-
cerning defensive aspects when their team is defending, and instructions con-
cerning offensive aspects when their team is attacking.

Practical Exercises
Watch a coach directing a game and note down how
many times he/she addresses his/her players during
periods of active participation and how many during
pauses (without counting time-outs or half-time).
Watch a coach when, during a game, he/she address
his/her players during periods of active participation and
note whether his/her comments are related to the task
being performed by the players at that moment or if they
refer to different aspects.
For both exercises, a tool such as that shown in Table-14
can be used.








Table 14. Example of tool to record frecuency of comments from coach to players during
periods of active participation and pauses.

Kind of Comments
In general, during periods of active participation, the players should be
allowed to act without the coach giving them instructions, with his/her inter-
vention being limited to very relevant moments.
This measure is especially important for teams of young players, becau-
se it allows them to show initiative, take on responsibility and develop their
talent instead of waiting for the coach to tell them what to do.
Likewise, the coach should avoid insults and derogatory remarks, adop-
ting a positive and constructive style in order to help the players.
Therefore, more than recrimina-
tion and correction, it would be more
appropriate during these periods for
the coach to prompt or reinforce the
individual or the collective beha-
viour he/she wants to consolidate.

In the first case, the coach

could make a comment such
as, Tommy, go get the ball!
(prompting) exactly in the
situation and at the moment
when the player can perform
this action.
In the second case, when the
player gets the ball with or
without prompting, the coach could say, Good, Tommy! (reinforce-
ment) exactly after the action is performed.

Prompting should be used infrequently because the point is not to tell the
players what they have to do every minute of the game but to remind them
of certain behaviour at very specific moments. This can be especially appro-
priate to centre the players attention after an error.

* For example: a player misses a lay-up and the coach tells him,
Alex, move down quick to defend.

However, reinforcement should be generously used, especially with mini-

basketball teams and 13/14-year-olds; the coach should take advantage of
every deserving opportunity to reinforce his/her players.
When coaching their players during periods of active participation, coa-
ches should concentrate on reinforcing correctly executed actions, including
efforts made.

Practical Exercise
Using a tool such as that shown in Table-15, observe a
coach and note the number of times he/she reinforces
his/her players when they execute an effective action.

Apart from verbal behaviour, a coach should be careful with his/her non-
verbal expressions (his/her attitude on the bench or on the sidelines, his/her
gestures, etc.) because this also affects his/her players performance.
In the same way, the coach should control comments made within ear-
shot of the players sitting on the bench, avoiding insults and derogatory
expressions made about the players on the court or any comment that shows
his/her lack of control over the game (for example, This is a disaster! I
havent got the slightest idea what to do!).
Comments such as these lead to rejection and a lack of confidence on the
part of the players, both those not playing who overhear them as well as for
their teammates when they find out.
In general, when coaching the game, coaches should avoid making ges-
tures of disapproval, anger or dis-
couragement respecting the beha-
viour of their players, maintaining
a relaxed attitude which will help
both the players as well as themsel-
ves to perform better.

The activity of both the coach
and the players during pauses is
essential. If properly used, breaks in
the game can be a great help for the
players to recuperate physically (as
far as possible) and prepare them-
selves to perform better during
upcoming periods of active partici-
pation; but if the pauses are poorly
used, they can be very negative
because the players have time for
negative thoughts or images or they
can be influenced by external ele-
ments that alter their optimum per-








Table 15. Tool to record frecuency of reinforcement from coach to players during periods of
active participation.

formance (things happening around them, comments made by the coach or

their teammates, etc.).
In basketball, pauses can be divided into three categories: during game
time when the referee stops the game (when calling a personal foul, when the
ball goes out, etc.), time-outs and half-time.

Pauses in Game Time

The behaviour of the coach during pauses in game time could benefit from
the following recommendations:

his/her comments to the players should be very clear, specific and con-
the principal purpose of his/her comments should be to centre the pla-
yers attention on key aspects of the upcoming period of active participa-
tion, without stopping to analyse what has already occurred in previous
he/she should not speak or yell without a specific purpose; if he/she is ner-
vous or angry, he/she should use another procedure to calm down, but
not speak to the players if it is not necessary;
he/she should not continually address the players to tell them how to act;
they need autonomy and they
cannot be constantly depen-
dent on the coach. Besides,
many players feel uncomfor-
table if the coach corrects them
frequently, and this increases
their anxiety, causing them to
perform even more poorly;
often, these players disconnect
and ignore what the coach
tells them;
the coach can use pauses to
reinforce efforts made by his/her
players on less showy tasks
(for example, defense beha-
viour, helping teammates,
running back, etc.) or suitable
actions which he/she feels
he/she should insist upon
even though these have not
yet produced a positive result;

* For example: a team of 13/14-year-olds is trying to execute Fast-

Breaks, following the coachs instructions. After an attempt ending
in a bad pass that goes out, the coach reinforces her players, saying
Good, thats the way. Keep working on the fast-break!.

the coach can also use breaks to encourage the players after their errors,
getting them to concentrate on tasks during the next period of active

* For example: a player has lost the ball and then made a personal
foul. The coach tells her, Go on, Sally, forget it and defend your player.

just as in periods of active participation, the coach should avoid deroga-

tory, disapproving or discouraging gestures and comments;
when working with young players, the coach should not use this time
or any other to insult or question the referee, but should be a model of
behaviour for his/her players, accepting and respecting the referees au-
thority and his/her work.

These same guidelines can be applied to time-outs and half-time although,
in these cases, because there is more time available, the coach should esta-
blish a working routine.
During time-outs, the coach could follow suggestions such as the follo-

get the players used to moving quickly to the sidelines or the bench;
allow fifteen seconds for the players to drink water, dry off the sweat
and relax a little while the coach decides what he/she wants to say to
establish that the only person to talk during time-outs is the coach; not
the assistant coaches nor the players, only the coach. Otherwise, the pla-
yers attention will wander and they will not be able to concentrate on
the comments that the coach has decided to make;
do not try to say too much, especially to younger players;
do not speak too quickly; speak energetically but without getting
wound up. Use full sentences, give clear and precise instructions, use
words and phrases that are understandable to the players;

when addressing the players, in the first place, if the last play or plays
have been unfortunate, make a brief reference to this so that the players
forget about it and concentrate on other aspects (for example, Forget that
run of mistakes, lets concentrate on what we have to do from here on);
then, briefly reinforce the co-
rrect behaviours that he/she
considers most important (for
example, Were doing a good
job moving quickly down to
defend. Keep it up.);
if the team has had a good run
just before the time-out, the
coach should reinforce the
effort and concentration rela-
ted with this (Youre making
good passes, keep on looking
for unguarded teammates.);
after briefly reinforcing the
previous principal actions,
the coach should centre atten-

tion on actions that should take precedence during the next period of
active participation (for example, Youve got to move faster to get the
ball; Max, try to play 1 on 1 when you get a pass, etc.);
finally, the coach should say some words of encouragement (for exam-
ple, Come on, boys, go out and have a good time, Go on, keep figh-
in general, it is appropriate that the coach divert the players attention
from the scoreboard and centre it on what they have to do (for example,
Forget the score, Play as if the scoreboard isnt there, Just focus on
what you have to do).

Time-outs are great opportunities to educate the players, helping them

to improve both individually and as a team. Do not waste them, but use
them efficiently.

Test Exercise-8
Think about how you behave during time-outs and
answer the following questions choosing one of the
three options (Usually, Sometimes or Almost Never). You
will find a comment on your answers at the end of the
Usually Sometimes Almost
1. Do your players move quickly to the
sidelines or the bench?
2. Do you give your players time to
drink water and relax a bit before
starting to talk to them?
3. Are you the only one who talks dur-
ing time-outs?
4. Do you tell your players off for mis-
takes made during previous plays?
5. Do you reinforce good plays that
you want the players to repeat?
6. Do you speak quickly so that you
have time to say a lot?
7. Do you try to centre the players atten-
tion on the most important behaviour
for the upcoming period of active par-
8. Do you remind your players that
they should think about winning?
9. Do you make fun of a player when
you want him to react and play better?
10. Do you run out of time to say every-
thing you want to the players?
11. Do you tend to say something
encouraging just before the players
go out onto the court?

Half-time is the longest pause and therefore, the moment when the coach
can intervene directly in the greatest measure.
Half-time should be used for the players to rest, go to the bathroom, drink
water, adjust their equipment or bandages, apply ice to alleviate the pain of
a blow, etc., and for the coach to talk to them about improving their perfor-
mance during the second half.
This is precisely the objective that coaches should have when they address
their players during half-time, to help them improve their performance during the
second half, leaving for another moment comments about what happened
during the first half that are not relevant to achieving this objective.

In the first place, just as with time-outs, the coach should establish a
working routine for the half-time, including all activities appropriate to
this period. This way, he/she will make the best use of available time.
Before talking to the players, the coach should briefly meditate on
what he/she wants to tell them instead of acting impulsively, without
any type of strategy. The half-time break is very valuable and should
not be wasted on improvisation dictated by the coachs mood. Even
though there is little time, the coach should decide what his/her goals
and strategies should be in order to make the best use of the half-time
When giving instructions the
coach should follow the gui-
delines that usually predomi-
nate for a game: the instruc-
tions should be few, precise
and very clear, centred on the
specific behaviour that the pla-
yers should produce during
the second half.

Briefly, the coach should remind,

correct or reinforce actions from the
first half, as long as these are relevant
to the second half, finishing up with
very specific instructions for the
second half.
The kind of behaviours from
the first half that the coach should
reinforce so that they will be repea-
ted during the second half should

effort behaviours (anticipate in defense, run fast-breaks, block

rebounds, etc.);
concentration behaviours (quick reactions when playing defense
and offense);
control behaviours (handle the ball well, not make personal fouls
by lowering the arm, etc.);
cooperation behaviours (play with the post, pass to unguarded
teammates, talking in defense, defensive help, etc.).

However, it is not a good idea to highlight sporadic abilities (for example,

a flashy shot).
This way, the reinforcement will strengthen the players self-confidence
by highlighting behaviour that depends mainly on them.
In any case, the coach should finish his/her talk by specifying the main
performance goals for the second half, and transmitting an optimistic message
to encourage the players.

Practical Exercise
Using the previous information and the tool in Table-16,
think about what you usually do during game half-time
and note down aspects you can improve.


Once the game is over, the coach should adopt a balanced attitude regard-
less of what has occurred. He/she should neither be euphoric when his/her
team wins and the players have played well nor be depressed when they lose
and play badly.
A coach working with young players should remember that games are a
unique educational experience, with the most important moment coming at the
end of the game. It is then that young players have to learn to tolerate the
frustration of defeat or of having played badly and also to place victory and
a good game in the proper perspective.
A young players coach is a role model who, at such moments more than
any other, should demonstrate the proper behaviour that the players will imi-
tate, and the same should be said of parents.



Table 16. Half-time self-assessment.


When the game is over, it is

important for the coach to control
his/her feelings and teach his/her
players to congratulate their oppo-
nents and the referee in a relaxed,
sportslike manner.
The game has finished and there
will be time to analyse it later. What
is important now is that the coach
show his/her support for his/her pla-
yers. It is not necessary to organise
a talk or, for example, try to convin-
ce the ones who are sad that losing
is not important. Its enough that
the coach be there with them, that
he/she say a few encouraging words
(without going too far) and that
he/she take leave of them optimis-
tically until the next practice.
This is not the moment to analy-
se, explain or correct anything.
The players need time to live their
emotions in peace, because this too is something they can learn from bas-

Test Exercise-9
Answer the following questions, choosing one of the four
options (Usually, Sometimes, Almost Never or Never).
You will find comments on your answers at the back of
the book.
When you coach your team in a game...
Usually Sometimes Almost Never
1. Do you tend to see the negative aspects of
your team more than the positive ones?
2. Do you get angry when the players
make mistakes?
3. Do you reinforce the players when they
try to produce the correct behaviour,
even if they are not successful?
4. Do you encourage the players when they
make a mistake and try to centre their
attention quickly on the task at hand?
5. Do you assess your players performance
based on the final score: if they win, you
think they have done almost everything
right; if they lose, you think they have
done almost everything wrong?
6. Do you constantly tell the players what
they have to do?
7. Do you insult or make fun of the players?
8. Are you capable of coaching the game
objectively, regardless of the scoreboard?
9. Do you insult or protest to the referees?
10. Do you tend to transmit positive mes-
sages to the players?
11. Do you spend most of the half-time
recriminating the players for mistakes
made during the first half?
12. Do you make disapproving gestures or
comments to your players?
13. Do you congratulate the coach of the
opposing team after the game and teach
your players that they should do the
same with their opponents?
14. Just after losing a game, do you
organise a talk with the players to
tell them what they did wrong?
Maurizio Mondoni


6-7 Year-Olds
8-9 Year-Olds
10-11-12 Year-Olds
The Base-Game
Body Pattern Development
Body Orientation in Space and Laterality
Spatial-Temporal Perception
Respiratory Education
Joint Mobility
Spatial-Temporal and Dynamic Differentiation
Mobility Learning, Adaptation and Transformation, and Mobility Control
Anticipation and Choice
Dribbling and Shooting
Dribbling, Passing and Shooting
Defense and Combination with Dribbling, Passing and Shooting
6-7 Year-Olds
8-9 Year-Olds
10-11-12 Year-Olds


In previous chapters we have explained many concepts to be applied

when coaching a mini-basketball team. In this chapter, we pinpoint some spe-
cific suggestions and explain appropriate drills with mini-basketball players.

6-7 Year-Olds
At the age of 6-7 childrens sensory-perceptive abilities, motor and pos-
tural patterns and motor abilities need to be trained and developed by play-
ing with the body, small props and larger equipment.
The more gestures and movements are introduced the more a childs
motor skills will improve.
Drills and games must be presented in a general form, asking to the play-
ers questions like Let us see who can...?
The practice must be held in a tranquil, relaxed climate. Children must
make their own guided discoveries (music helps a lot and facilitates learn-
The analytical teaching of basketball fundamentals should be avoided at
all costs at this age, proposing instead the performance of motor patterns in
a playful form:
throwing and catching

8-9 Year-Olds
At this age, it is necessary to continue training and developing basic motor
patterns (perfecting techniques) so that they can be (gradually) transformed
into specific motor abilities through the training and development of motor
abilities (especially coordination capacity, joint mobility capacity, as well as
conditional capacities).
Children must play doing dribbling, passing, shooting, defending; all of
these activities should be presented by the coach in a general form, taking as
his/her starting point the playing rules of mini-basketball.
However, before analysing mini-basketball playing rules, it is impor-
tant to make children able to understand:

the movements they can perform in space and time;

the space available to play;
what they must do when playing offense;
what they have to do when playing defense;
the rules of the game.

When a child is ready, playing rules can be presented, from which bas-
ketball fundamentals can later be drawn:

You cannot walk or run while holding the ball; so in order to move
on court you must dribble.
To win the game you must score more baskets than your oppo-
nents; therefore you have to shoot in the opponents basket.
You cannot always play alone against everybody, but having team-
mates; you need to pass them the ball.
The opposing team must not score more baskets than your team;
therefore you have to defend your own basket.

From the base-game (global training), which is not only 1 on 1, 2 on 2 or 3

on 3 (global form), but can also be any drill-game or pre-sporting game, the
coach can observe what is happening on court, assessing the players pro-
In this way the coach will work more on what has not been properly
learned or understood (analytical form), using drill-games to improve incor-
rect situations, before returning to the global game to verify whether playing
ability (individual and team) has improved.

* For example: during the 1 on 1 drill, the coach observes that

the children do not know how to dribble. He/she will work on
dribbling , proposing ad hoc drills, and then return to 1 on 1
situations to verify whether dribbling has improved.

10-11-12 Year-Olds
At this age the work to train and develop motor abilities continues; bas-
ketball fundamentals are perfected and corrections become more analytical
in nature.
It is even more important at this stage, to start from a global situation (1
on 1, 2 on 2, 3 on 3-free situations) before going on to an anlytical work and
then returning to the global situation. However, specialist roles must not be
established, gestures and movements must not be extremely technical yet, the
game must be in a free form, the playing ideas (in offense an defense) pre-
sented by the coach should be simple at the beginning.
The final aim should be that of bringing children to play 5 on 5 in a slight-
ly more organised way.

The Base-Game
The base-game (1 on 1, 2 on 2, 3 on 3, 4 on 4, 5 on 5) is the ideal starting
point for a coach when teaching mini-basketball after having built up a strong
multilateral motor base.

1 on 1 Base-Game
The 1 on 1 base-game may be used in a simple manner with children in
the 8-9 age group and in a more complex fashion with children in the 10-11-
12 age group.

At 8-9 years, the coach must accept that children cannot be expected to
perform over-complicated gestures and movements, he/she must be patient
and carefully observe players behaviour on court.
At the age of 10-11-12, more difficult gestures and movements can be
expected, since the motor experiences of children have significantly increased
and are therefore stored in the childrens minds.
The 1 on 1 base game constitutes the initial situation from which mini-bas-
ketball can be taught to children aged 8-9.
The following indications can be provided to children for the 1 on 1 situ-

you cannot run while holding the ball;

you cannot leave the court;
you cannot dribble again after catching the ball;
the player in possession of the ball must try to go where there is no
opponent (explain how) and must decide immediately what to do, but
must also change his/her plan if what he/she expected is not happe-
the player in possession of the ball must seek to prevent his/her oppo-
nents from taking it away from him/her (sheltered dribbling, turning
the player in possession of
the ball must attempt to beat
his/her opponents;
offensive players not in po-
ssession of the ball must try
to become unmarked;
defensive players should not
be beaten and must stand
in front of their offensive
opponent, whether he/she
has the ball or not.

The coach must carefully obser-

ve childrens behaviour during the
base-game, and from the different
situations arising on court he/she
must infer what children cannot do
or cannot do well, proposing drills
and games useful for solving the

* For example: he/she may have observed that the child in po-
ssession of the ball does not know how to dribble in order to move
on court, that he/she leaves the playing area, he/she does not chan-
ge hands when dribbling, he/she cannot choose what sort of dri-
bbling to use, he/she does not have good control of the ball, he/she
does not have the correct perception of his/her body and space, or
he/she is unable to take quick decisions.
* The coach may on the other hand observe that the child
defending commits too many fouls when trying to regain po-
ssession of the ball, he/she is uncoordinated, he/she possesses
little balance, he/she does not perceive distances, or he/she is
unable to disassociate the action of arms and legs.

At this point the coach must decide the needs to be attended first to help
the children resolve the problems mentioned above.

The coach should propose useful drill-games to solve the problems, try
to correct the main errors in performance (in doing so secondary errors may
disappear) and must provide the children with simple but essential tips,
that would help them understanding the game (logic applied to move-

In order to do all this, the coach must know and apply the proper exer-
After the analytical work, the coach must re-apply the 1 on 1 base-game
and verify whether the work performed has been productive.
In the 1 on 1 situation the child must gradually understand that dribbling
helps to:

move from defense to offense;

beat ones opponents;
move nearer to the basket (enter, stop, pass and shoot, shoot);
improve the passing angle (when playing with teammates).

The 1 on 1 situation is practically a duel, the two contestants are both the
offensive and the defensive player, being important for the players to chan-
ge mentality (from offense to defense and the opposite).

Progressively players will must be able to know or understand when

they need to change hands, direction or speed, when it is better to pass ra-
ther than dribble, and when it is better to shoot and how.

All of this is called anticipation and decision ability, which in the initial
stages causes children to commit many mistakes when judging the situations
and making the subsequent decisions.
Only after the child has understood what he/she must do, can he/she
begin to work on how (performance technique) to obtain a better result.
It is possible to play 1 on 1 full-court, half-court or close to the basket.
The coach may function as a referee, running the game and stopping it in
the event of rule violations, teaching the rules and being tolerant with
younger children about their mistakes.

2 on 2 Base-Game
In the 2 on 2 base-game we have both a 1 on 1 situation with the ball and
a 1 on 1 situation without the ball.
This base-game may be used with children from the age of 8 using dif-
ferent methods and techniques according to the age group.
In the 1 on 1 base-game seen previously, the offensive player had only one
possibility, that of beating his/her opponent by dribbling or shooting, while
the defensive player sought to become an attacker by trying to regain pos-
Now in the 2 on 2 base-game the offensive player with the ball has more
possibilities; in addition to dribbling and shooting, he/she can also pass the
ball to his/her unmarked teammate, while in defense one player still defends
the ball handler while the other defends the player that is not in possession
of the ball.
The player in possession of the ball must decide what to do, that is
whether it is better to dribble, pass or shoot (according to the distance from
the basket and from the defender).

* For instance: if the ball handler has no defender in front of

him/her, he/she may decide to move closer to the basket by dri-
bbling and if the defender counters such strategy, he/she may
attempt to beat him/her by changing hands, direction or speed.
If this player cannot shoot by driving in, stopping and shooting,
or by taking one step and shooting, he/she may pass the ball to
his/her teammate that is free.

The initial action conceived by

the child (dribbling and shooting)
undergoes changes (defender in
front of him/her), meaning that the
child must modify his/her plan of
action (try to beat his/her opponent
or pass the ball to his teammate).
To do all this, he/she must be
endowed with technical resources
that he/she can make use of every
time different situations arise du-
ring the games.
The player who has not the pos-
session of the ball must attempt to
become unmarked, going where
there is no direct opponent to
receive the ball and occupy the emp-
ty spaces.
He/she must move quickly on court, because if he/she does not move it
would be easier for the defender to intercept the ball in the event of a pass
(he/she should make dummies and point out where he/she wants the pass).
Adding together the two situations, 1 on 1 with ball and 1 on 1 without ball,
we have a new situation of 2 on 2 in offense and defense (collaboration play).
In the 2 on 2 base-game, it is very important from a didactic point of view
to initially limit the number of dribbles while holding the ball, obliging the
player with the ball to pass the ball more often (passing is quicker than drib-
It is very useful to propose outnumbering situations (2 on 1) in a playful
form (in a large or a small area) to make children understand that it is better
to pass the ball to an unmarked teammate rather than continue dribbling.
Often the player defending an attacker not handling the ball forgets about
his/her opponent and goes towards the ball, leaving his/her opponent
unmarked. This leads to the following situations:

the player handling the ball is marked by two defenders;

the attacker that is not in possession of the ball is unmarked, but
he/she cannot receive the ball because the ball handler is in di-
the player that is not in possession of the ball goes towards the
ball handler to recieve the ball;
the ball handler finds it difficult to dribble or pass.

It would be a good idea to tell the player who is not in possession of the
ball not to come too close to the ball handler, because in doing so, he/she could
also bring his/her defender closer to the ball (thus impeding the movements
of his/her teammate).
This becomes possible only when the ball handler is in difficulty and
shouts help, in which case his/her teammate can move closer to receive the
ball (either to receive a pass or to get the ball directly from his/her teammates
The use of the pivot foot in these cases must be explained and the play-
er should understand it without making the technique automated.

The 2 on 2 base-game may be used obliging children to pass the ball

without dribbling, then one can introduce dribbling and finally the possi-
bility of shooting. The game can be points- or time-based.

The coach may function as referee, running the game and stopping it in
the event of rule violations, teaching the rules and being tolerant with
younger children about their mistakes.
The coach must observe how children play and single out the problems
that occur, working on them before returning to the base-game (2 on 2-free)
to verify whether the corrections made have led to improvements.
The situations to be proposed are 1 on 1 with ball, 1 on 1 without ball, 2
on 1, 1 on 1 with the coachs support, 2 on 2 full-court, 2 on 2 half-court and
2 on 2 close to the basket.
As they play, the children will undoubtedly improve, trying out real-play
situations (which they will later come across in games) and at the same time
further developing their creativity and motor imagination.

Deep analytical work of gestures and movements should be avoided at

all costs, but it is important to make children aware of what they must
do during the game in both offense and defense, and the coach must help
them to solve problem situations that arise while playing.

3 on 3, 4 on 4, 5 on 5 Base-Game
In 3 on 3 base game, it is important to make children capable of manag-
ing available space, first over the full court, then over half-court, then close
to the basket.

In this situation there are two

children who are not in possession
of the ball, and the ball handler
must decide to whom he/she
should pass the ball (to the player
that first becomes unmarked).
In connection with this, real out-
numbering situations must be intro-
duced (3 on 1, 3 on 2 and 2 on 3) so
that the ball handler may decide
whether to dribble, shoot, dribble
and shoot or pass the ball.
Obviously, defenders must de-
fend both the ball handler and the
other players.
At the beginning the defense
will be face to face, then will lay off
more, then anticipate.
The ball handler, seeing all defenders go towards him/her, must try to
pass the ball to an unmarked teammate. If defenders defend only players that
are not in possession of the ball, the ball handler must go towards the basket
and shoot.
If the player handling the ball is confident, he/she must try to beat his/her
direct opponent by dribbling; otherwise he/she must pass the ball to his/her
This work requires a considerable amount of time; drills must be intro-
duced in a playful form, and the method to be used is similar to that used in
the 2 on 2 base-game.
From the 3 on 3 base-game one can gradually move on to 4 on 4 and 5 on
5 base-games through the presentation of the outnumbering situations (4 on
1, 4 on 2, 4 on 3, 5 on 1, 5 on 2, 5 on 3, 5 on 4).

The main thing is for children to play as much as possible without the
coach interrupting the game too often. Only in this way it is possible for the
players to discover the best solutions themselves. They will be more creati-
ve, have more fun and will not be forced to do only what the coach wants.

If players cannot shoot in 1 on 1 situations, they will seek alternative solu-

tions, namely passing the ball to a teammate and playing with him/her (give
and go, give and follow, give and change place).

From the 4 on 4 and 5 on 5 situations, the coach will take what he/she has
observed and he/she will organise more specific drills that will help improve
childrens playing abilities, and afterwards he/she will return to the 5 on 5
situation in a more global way.
The coach must direct the game, teach the rules, handle fouls and viola-
tions, teach referee signalling, not whistle too often and attempt to explain
the globality of the game to the children.


In this section we explain a number of drills for the physical development

of mini-basketball players.

Body Pattern Development

1. Invite children to get to know their body and the movements they
can perform with each part of their body (standing still, on the move,
with and without the ball). Suggest in turn the movements they are
not yet familiar with.
2. All types of walking (on hells, tip-toe, on the inside and outside of
3. Walking forward or running forward, reverse walking, sideways,
around or in the middle of the court, holding the ball high, low,
behind the back.
4. Run, kicking backwards, holding ball behind back.
5. Run with knees high holding ball in front.
6. Walking or running, pass the ball around the head, the trunk, lower
limbs, push it forwards, upwards.
7. Walk or run in the middle of the court holding the ball, with a musi-
cal background. Suddenly stop the music and watch
the behaviour and reactions of the children, then
start the music again.
8. The same game-drill as above, dribbling freely in the
9. Walk holding the ball with the hands, roll it without
letting go around body, squeeze it, throw it.
10. Walk holding ball between ankles.
11. Jump holding ball between ankles.

12. Crawling: carry ball between ankles, under tummy, roll over ball.
13. Game-drills for breathing training.
14. Sitting down, raise legs and pass ball under knees.
15. Lying on ground, pass ball under knees.

16. Lying on back, hold ball between ankles: lift ball to touch the ground
behind head and return back.
17. Bend arms to touch chest with the ball and back.
18. Hold ball between ankles: raise lower limbs and sitting down, move
ball to right and left.
19. Lying on tummy, dribble with right and left hand.
20. Squeeze ball with two hands for about 5 seconds.
21. Standing up, legs apart, hold ball high: bend
waist and touch right foot and left foot with

22. Lying on back, ball above ankles, raise legs and roll ball towards chest.
23. Ball on ground: try to lift it by tapping with one hand.
24. Dribble ball with feet, knees, head.
25. Raise ball high, let it drop and bounce on ground, touch it with head,
shoulders knee, foot.
26. Ball held between hands: rapidly change hand position.
27. Roll ball around feet moving in the court.

28. Push ball forwards with head.

29. Place one hand on ground and use other to dribble and move.

30. Bounce ball on ground with fist, side of hand, back of hand, palm
(standing still and on the move).
31. Same game-drill as above with two fists, two sides, two backs of
32. In pairs pass ball sitting down twisting trunk.
33. In pairs lying on back: A holds the ball between ankles, raises legs
and passes to B who receives with hands, repeat.


34. In pairs: A with ball between ankles raises legs and passes ball to
B who is standing; repeat and then change positions.


Body Orientation in Space and Laterality

1. Game-drill exploring basketball court (side-lines, end-lines, circles),
walking, running, jumping, dribbling.
2. Throw ball towards side-lines and try to catch it before it goes out of
court; same towards end-lines.
3. Walk in the court with one eye closed and one open, both eyes
closed, dribbling, jumping and dribbling.
4. Dribble following court lines, circles, lanes.
5. Walk in court passing ball under legs.

6. Dribble standing still with preferred hand, walking, running.

7. Dribble standing still and jump with feet together, jump on one foot,
with open legs, crossed legs.
8. Standing still dribble, with one hand and jump on corresponding
9. Dribble against wall with one hand, two hands.
10. Dribble high, very high, low, very low.
11. Dribble sitting down with one finger, two, three, four, five fingers.
12. Dribble a tam-tam with ball.
13. Throw ball very high and catch with same hand, with opposite hand,
with two hands (standing, kneeling, sitting, lying with back on
14. Dribble and jump in a straight line.

Spatial-Temporal Perception
1. Roll ball in court with one hand, two hands, with feet, dribbling, try-
ing to avoid objects scattered in court.
2. Walk, throw ball forwards and grab it immediately after it has
touched ground.
3. Walk, throw ball backwards and immediately retrieve it; repeat.
4. Throw ball very high and catch it after having clapped hands sever-
al times in front, behind back, in front and behind, under legs.
5. Same game-drill as above, after having touched ground with one
hand, both hands, after having turned around in a circle.
6. Throw ball against wall and catch it.

7. Throw ball against wall, clap hands in front and catch without drop-
ping: repeat clapping hands behind back, touching ground, turning
8. In pairs hold hands and dribble (standing in place and on the move).
9. Roll ball, run and catch it before it reaches an established mark.
10. Roll ball and turn around it.

11. Throw ball high and clap hands every time it touches ground.
12. Same game-drill jumping with feet together, same on one foot.
13. Throw ball as high as possible and as far as possible.
14. Dribble, beating a rhythm.
15. Back against wall, throw ball against wall, turn and catch ball.

16. Throw ball high in air and try to pass under it as

many times as possible.

17. Bounce ball on floor and pass one arm around it.
18. Same game-drill with hands together, feet together.
19. Walk holding ball behind head, let it drop and
catch it before it touches floor.

20. Spin ball on one finger.

21. Walk passing ball from one hand to the other.

22. Legs apart, bounce ball on floor between legs, turn and grab ball.
23. Standing with legs apart, ball held between legs with one hand in
front and one behind: quickly pass from hand to hand.

1. Throw ball high and turn foot around (count the number of times the
child manages to turn foot around ball).
2. Dribble jumping on one foot (in place and on the move).

3. Roll on feet without losing balance.

4. Walk on tip-toes, on heels.
5. Standing still, hold ball, legs apart: jump, turn around completely
and land in same position (in one direction and then the other).
6. Dribble with eyes closed.
7. Jump on and off a bench without losing balance.
8. Run around court and stop immediately at a signal.
9. Same game-drill, dribbling.
10. Run around court, stop at a signal, jump high and turn around, then
start to run again.
11. Reverse walking.
12. Reverse walking on a bench, walk forwards.
13. Same game-drills dribbling.
14. Dribble throughout court, at the signal roll on ground, stand up,
grasp ball and start to dribble again.
15. Roll ball forwards, somersault on carpet, grasp ball again and drib-
ble or shoot or pass.

16. Walk on a bench, catch a ball thrown by a teammate and pass it back

17. Dribble in court and at the signal stop still, standing on one foot.

18. Dribble, around, inside and outside of circle, alternatively.

19. Shoot inside a circle held by the Instructor.
20. Shoot at a basket from an unbalanced position .

1. Roll ball and try to hit a target (ball in movement, circle, clubs, num-
bers drawn on the wall, inside the squares of wall bars, etc.).
2. Run, with one arm forward and the other above.
3. Throw ball and try to put it through a circle held by a teammate.

4. In pairs (one ball each): try to touch back, knees, ball (the one who
manages to touch the other most times in a certain period of time
5. Same game-drill in threes, fours and fives.
6. Dribble in place with two balls alternatively.
7. Same game-drill, running.
8. Reverse walking, dribbling with two balls.
9. In pairs dribble with two balls and at the signal exchange balls.
10. Same game-drill in threes, fours and fives.
11. Dribble a figure 8 with legs apart.
12. Dribble figure 8 in pairs.

13. In pairs, A dribbles towards B (legs apart and extending arms)

passes under, turns around, returns to starting position, stops, turns
and passes the ball to B who then repeats the same game-drill.
14. Standing up, ball held-in front with straight arms: let it drop, clap
hands behind back and grab ball.
15. Same game-drill holding ball behind back: clap hands and grab ball
16. Same game-drill with ball held in front of knee.
17. Dribble simultaneously with three balls.
18. In pairs (one ball each): A dribbles advancing forward and B
dribbles moving backward; at signal change.
19. Same game-drill sideways.
20. In pairs, one ball each: A bounce passes to B and B two-hand-
ed chest pass back to A.
21. In pairs, A standing with ball and B sitting without ball: A
passes to B and sits down, B passes to A and stands up.
22. In pairs: two-handed chest pass, bounce pass, side pass, side bounce
pass, hand-off, bowling pass, baseball pass, two-handed overhead
23. In pairs, back to back: pass ball above head and below legs.

24. Same game-drill, passing the ball sideways right and left.
25. In pairs facing each other: A rolls the ball to B and B passes at
same time with feet.
26. In pairs, sitting facing each other, one ball each: exchange balls
rolling, bouncing, throwing.
27. Aim and throw ball against a target.
28. In pairs: A makes movements dribbling and B imitates A;
change roles.

29. In pairs ball between backs: walk forwards, backwards, sideways,

trying not to drop the ball.

30. Same game-drill with ball held between foreheads.

31. In pairs lying on tummy, one ball each: pass balls.

32. In pairs: A passes the ball to B and B, before receiving it, must
clap hands.
33. In pairs: A throws the ball high in the air and B throws own ball
trying to hit it.
34. Same game-drill, rolling the ball.

Respiratory Education
1. Blow balloons, blow through straws, make noises.
2. Inhale and exhale with a single nostril, closing the other.
3. Blow, pushing ping-pong balls on the floor.
4. Inhale through nose and count aloud without exhaling; same thing
counting mentally.
5. Sitting down, lean on hands behind back: inhale in one count and
exhale in two counts.
6. Standing up, holding ball between heels: inhale in one count extend-
ing arms out and lifting them, exhale in one count, simultaneously
bending legs (hug knees).
7. Lying on back, ball on chest: inhale and exhale watching the move-
ment of the ball which goes up and down.

8. Same game-drill with ball on tummy.

9. Blow paper cups, following an established path, without knocking
them over (competition).

1. Race dribbling 15-20 meters.
2. Race running in a slalom while dribbling.
3. Relay races and dribbling races.
4. Game-drills for rhythmic ball handling.
5. Tic-tac in 2, 3, 4, 5 only forwards, forwards and return, in time.
6. Competition in push-ups.

7. Competition jumping, keeping rhythm.

8. Same game-drill dribbling at the same time.
9. Timed shooting competition: see how many shots can be made in a
certain period of time.

10. Same game-drill, checking how many baskets can be made in a cer-
tain period of time.
11. Timed passing (2, 3, 4, 5 players in teams): see how many passes can
be made in a certain period of time.
12. Timed simple circuits.

1. Dribble and jump at same time.
2. Competitions in dribbling, shooting, passing, standing still and on the
3. Drills in pairs in offense and defense, opposition and resistance.
4. In pairs: wheelbarrow (hold onto thighs).
5. Jump inside and outside of a circle.
6. High jump, long jump, jump backwards, low jump.
7. Throw ball forwards, backwards, sideways, sitting down, kneeling
down, lying on back, lying on tummy.
8. All types of relay races.
9. All types of circuits (stimulating jumping strength, throwing strength).


1. Dribble running in court and change speed at a signal (whistle, voice,

lines of court, etc.).
2. Dribble starting from different positions (standing, sitting, kneeling,
lying on back, lying on tummy, etc.).
3. In pairs (one ball each), dribble and try to touch the others ball, knee,
back; untie shoe-laces, etc.

4. Races and relays dribbling (different signals).

5. Very easy circuits.
6. Game-drills of reaction to signal (visual-audio-tactile).

Joint Mobility
1. Game-drill for ball-handling or handling other equipment.
2. Rotation, twisting trunk, extension of lower limbs, extension of upper
limbs, holding ball in hands.
3. Very easy circuits: passing under a bench, inside the wall bars, under
a curved ladder on the floor, unpside down.

4. Game-drills for mobility of trunk, hip, with tests to check.

Spatial-Temporal and Dynamic Differentiation

1. Walk and run fast, slowly, jump slowly or fast.
2. Same game-drill dribbling.
3. Dribble slow, fast, bouncing ball high, low, very high, very low.
4. Dribble two balls in alternate ways (in place and on the move).
5. Dribble in place running, changing hands, direction, speed, reverse
walking (at a signal).
6. Dribble at different paces.
7. In pairs, imitate the others speed of dribbling.
8. The Instructor beats a rhythm and children try to imitate it with their
hands, feet, with the ball.

Mobility Learning, Adaptation and Transformation,

and Mobility Control
1. Game-drills always different, with different starts and stops.
2. Game-drills: individual, in pairs, in groups (with ball blown hard, soft,
rough, shiny, heavy, light, small, big), with small gym props, back-
wards, with accelerated rhythm, with different signals (voice, hands,
whistle, tambourine, music).
3. All types of dribbling, shooting, passing and combinations.
4. All situations from 1 on 1 to 5 on 5 (both for offense and defense).
5. Game-drills with uneven number of players.

Anticipation and Choice

1. Passing in pairs with a defender in the middle.

2. Same game-drill in groups of three and five (with one, two defend-
3. Games 1 on 1 in all positions of the court.
4. Games with uneven number of players on each team.
5. From 1 on 1 to 3 on 3 with support.

6. Game of defensive help (trains).


offensive player
defensive player
without the ball

offensive player
passes (any type)
with the ball

movements of the
dribbles of the player
player without the ball

change of direction
with the ball

COACH Instructor obstacles

Table 17. Legend to follow the diagrams of this chapter.


In this section we explain a number of drills to develop basketball basic


1. Dribbling standing still, on the move, around the court, following
the perimeter of the court, in the middle of the court.
2. Dribble in the middle of the court responding to different signals
(voice, whistle, tambourine, hand clap), change speed, direction,
reverse walking, change hands, etc.
3. Dribble in the court following a previously prepared path.
4. Dribble with two balls, in place and on the move.
5. Statue Game: the children dribble in the middle of the court (one

ball each) and at a signal from the Instructor they must stop (those
who do not stop lose a point). This teaches how to stop (jump stop

and two-count stop).

6. Playing Catch: the children (one ball each) dribble in the court try-
ing not to be touched by the child who is It. The child who is
touched becomes It in turn. In this way the children learn to
change hands, reverse walk, change direction, speed while playing
to reach an objective (not analytically).
7. The same game, with the difference that the child who is It must
try to touch as many children as possible in a set period of time.
8. The children dribble following the lines of the court, and when they
meet another child they must change hand, reverse, change direc-
9. The Jack-Hammer Game: all of the children dribble in the court, imi-
tating a jack-hammer (dribbling high, low, slowly, fast).
10. The Car Game: all of the children (one ball each) are scattered
throughout the court and imitate an automobile. In basic position
when the car is still, dribbling when the motor is turned on, starting
the dribble when the car starts, dribbling throughout the court (for-
wards, backwards, right and left) as the car moves, stop dribbling
when the car stops at the streetlights (the Instructor shouts red
s t a r t
t h e

Instructor says green light), returning to the starting point (jump

This teaches the different ways of starting to dribble, dribbling in
its different forms, jump stop, and dribbling.

From these initial situations, following a rough presentation of the

different fundamentals, there will be a gradual shift to more pre-
cise representation and then to the stabilization of movements and
their availability at need.
11. The Tail Game: one child without a tail (handkerchief) dribbles
throughout the court and for a certain period of time tries to grab the
tails of the other children who run away dribbling in the court. The
child who manages to grab the most tails wins.
12. Free dribbling throughout the court and at a signal stop and turn
towards a basket, the side-lines, the end-lines (depending on the
instructions of the Instructor). This teaches to use the pivot foot.
13. Self-passing, stop and start dribbling (in all directions).
14. Dog and Hare Game: divide the children into two teams (one ball
each), giving each child (dog) a child to touch (hare). The dogs stand
in the central circle and the hares in the middle of the court. When
the Instructor gives the go, the dogs dribble and must try to touch
the hares. Those who are tagged must stop and sit. The child who
manages in a set period of time to touch the most hares is the win-
15. The Wolf and Sheep Game: put the children (sheep) in the three cir-
cles of the court (one ball each) and one child (wolf) outside of cir-
cles (with the ball). When the Instructor says The wolf isnt here,
the sheep can move freely throughout the court (the wolf can move
too, but cannot touch the sheep). When the Instructor says Here
comes the wolf, the wolf can touch all of the sheeps that are outside
of the circles (the sheep in the circles are safe). The sheep who are
touched outside of the circle become wolves and the game contin-
The game aims to teach the children not to look at the ball often
and to use the different types of dribbling depending on the situa-
tions that arise during the game.
16. The Fisherman Game: all of the children (fish) stand in a line behind
the end-line (one ball each), while one child is at half-court (fisher-
man). At a sig-
nal from the
Instructor, the
children must
dribble and try
to reach the
other end of the
court (beyond
the end-line),
without letting

the fisherman touch them. Those who are touched become fisher-
At the beginning of the game, it is not important to pay too much
attention to violations. Playing will teach speed, anticipation and
choice of dribbling.

17. Run and Chase Game: the children are divided into two teams (one
ball each) and are lined up at half-court (one team faces one basket
and the other faces the other basket); they stand back to back. Each
team is given a number (one or two), a color (black or white), and is
either the sun or the moon. Every time that the Instructor calls a
number, or a color, the team which is called starts dribbling towards
the end-line and the other team, after turning, starts to dribble and
tries to touch those who are running away (each child can only touch
the child who was back to back with him or her).

Those who reach the end-line are safe, while those who are
touched must raise their hand (no one is eliminated). The team which
manages to touch the most children in a set period of time wins. The
game may be played starting from a standing position, kneeling
down, sitting, lying on the back or tummy.

18. The Four Corners Game: the children form a square (one ball each)
and one child in the middle tries to occupy a free corner. At the
signal the children at the corner must change place while drib-
bling and the child who is It must try to occupy a place. The
child who remains without a place becomes It and the game
begins again. It is important to establish the direction of move-
ment (clockwise-counterclockwise or free) at the beginning of the

19. Free Tag Game: the children (one ball each) run dribbling around
the court and one child (It) tries to touch them. The children who
are touched stop and stretch out an arm, waiting to be touched and
freed by the other children.
20. Game 1-2-2 Star: the children (one ball each) stand in a line behind
the end-line and one stands at half-court (with a ball). The child at
half-court (with
his or her back to
the other chil-
dren), after
shouting 1-2-3
Start, turns
around and tries
to guess which
children have not
stopped drib-
bling ( the chil-
dren start dribbling when the child at half-court begins to shout 1-
2-3 Start). Those who are seen to move return to the starting
position (they may continue to play). The first to reach half-court
without being seen by the child who is at half-court is the winner of
this game.
21. The Signal Game: the children (one ball each) stand in a line facing
the Instructor. When the child begins to dribble, the Instructor indi-
cates the direction where the child must go (to the right, to the left,
forwards, backwards, etc). If the Instructor keeps his arms low, the
child may dribble past on either side, if he raises his right hand, the
child passes to the left (and vice-versa). If the Instructor raises both
arms then the child must reverse walk dribbling.
22. Relay Dribbling Races: there are many types of relays (forwards, for-
ward and backwards) without the ball (running, jumping), or drib-
bling, with one ball each or one ball per team. At a signal given by
the Instructor, the first of the line starts and follows the path (slalom,
running around markers, around the three circles of the court). The
child then returns, stops in front of the second in line, touches the
ball and the game continues. The team which arrives first after hav-
ing completed the path is the winner.
23. Relay Race with Pins: divide the children into two teams (one ball
each) and line them up as shown in the diagram. At the signal, the
first children of each line start and dribble with one hand while with
the other they must try to knock down the pins along the path, and
then come back dribbling quickly to let the second in line start. The
second starts and while dribbling with one hand must try to stand
the pins up again (the game cannot continue if the pins are not stand-
ing) and so on. The team which arrives first is the winner.

24. D r i b b l e
freely in the
court and
c h a n g e
h a n d ,
re v e r s e
w a l k ,
c h a n g e
speed, turn
around drib-
bling, etc.
25. Dribble following the perimeter of the court and change direction,
speed, hand, as indicated by the Instructor.
26. Dribble in the court and exchange ball with the other children while
continuing to dribble (do not interrup the dribbling).
27. Place the children in groups of three, four or five along the baseline
and set markers in the court at the two free throw lines and at half-
court (other markers can be set in the court). At a signal given by the
Instructor, the first in line starts. At every marker they will do the fol-
change hand;
change speed;
pivot dribble;
jump stop;
reverse, change hand and dribble forward;
change direction.
28. Teach dribbling drills (start, dribble and stop, with change of hand,
reverse, change of direction, pivot, ball protection, behind the back,
faking pivot and pivot, with hesitation, etc.


1. Throw balls of different weights and sizes in containers, circles, bas-

kets at different heights (from different distances).
2. Shooting-free, at the basket.

3. Shooting at
the basket
from a
4. Shooting into the squares of wall-bars, against numbers drawn on
the wall, in circles placed on the floor, or held by another child.
5. Shoot balls trying to knock down pins, hit other balls, different
objects (in place or moving).
6. Shoot in larger-than-normal baskets.
7. Shoot at different-size baskets without backboard.
8. Shoot at basket from different positions (facing, sideways at right,
sideways at left).
9. Shooting at basket: competition with different scores depending on

the results (two points for a basket, 1 point if the basket rim is
touched, half a point if the backboard is touched). The team which
manages to
reach a set
score first
g com-
in front
of the
i n g
( o n e
for each
T h e
t e a m
m a n -
ages to
the most
in a cer-
t a i n
of time
T h e
can be
o u t
f r o m
d i s -
ways to
t h e

ways to
the left,
with or
t h e

11. Free throw competition (individual or teams).

12. 21 Game: divide the children into two teams and line them up at
the two free throw lines. At the go, the first child in each line shoots
(2 points for a basket, otherwise the child must go for the rebound
and shoot again, getting one point if he or she scores a basket). The
second child begins to shoot when the first has either made a basket
or used up his or her two available shots. The team which first scores
21 points wins the game.

13. The World Game: mark several shooting positions around the area
(numbered progressively) and begin the game near the basket. If the
child makes the basket he or she moves to the different positions (or
stops after a mistake). The child who first manages to reach the end
of the circle wins. (Those who miss have three shots from each shoot-
ing position and if they miss they can still move on to the next posi-

14. The Triangle: divide the children into two teams (one ball each) and
line them up as shown in the diagram, under the two baskets. Mark
three shooting positions (to the right, from the half-circle and to the
left) and start the game when the Instructor gives a signal. The child
cannot move on to the next position until he or she scores a basket

run holding ball, count 1-2 and before the 3, throw the ball forwards
high, or above a string tied to two poles or in a circle;

run, pick up ball from ground and throw it after having counted up to two
(without stopping to run);

start dribbling until a marker on the ground, stop the dribble, run
towards the basket holding the ball and shoot (it does not matter if at the
beginning the children take more than two steps and make many rule vio-

same drill with the ball held by the Instructor in the free throw line;

dribbling and three-count entry (from right and from left, with right and
with left hand).

from under the basket holding the ball, make a step and shoot;

start further back, dribble, stop, one step and shoot;

start even further back, two or more dribbles, stop, one step and shoot;

start dribbling and go for basket.

from under basket, lift one knee and shoot (from right lift right knee and
from left lift left knee);

from one step back, make a step and shoot;

from two steps back, make two steps and shoot;

dribble and shoot on third count.

Table 18. Example of progressive methods to teach lay-ups.


(three non-consecutive shots available).

The team which passes through all three shooting positions and
first reaches the final position wins. It is not possible to shoot from a
position if all of the members of the team have not made a basket
from the previous position or have not used up all of the shots avail-
able to them.

15. All of the shooting game-drills may be performed with two hands,
one hand, two-handed jump shots, one-handed jump shot.
16. Throw the ball high, catch it and shoot.
17. Facing the basket, throw the ball high, pass under, turn, catch the ball
and turn around again (use of pivot foot) and shoot.
18. Shoot at the basket with one eye closed and one open.
19. Children stand around free throw line (one ball each), back to bas-
ket. At ghe signal, the children pivot (front or reverse) and shoot.
20. Children face the basket, ball on ground. At the signal they quickly
grasp the ball and shoot.
21. Children face basket, ball behind them. At the signal they throw the
ball from behind forwards (between legs), grab it and shoot.
22. Children face basket, holding ball between ankles: at the signal they
jump, letting go of the ball with their feet, catch it with their hands
and shoot.
23. Shoot standing on one leg.
24. Three point shooting competition.
25. Roll the ball towards the basket, run after it, stop it (one hand in front
and one hand behind) and shoot.
26. Shoot at the basket sitting down.
27. Throw the ball against the backboard, go for the rebound and shoot.
28. Shoot in pairs from all positions.

29. Teach shooting drills (position of feet, load, correct succession of push-
es, flexing wrist, release, extension of arm) with analytical correction.
30. Competition shooting hooks from under the basket.
n of pass-
ing and
after the
stop, from
right and
from left,
with right
and with
left hand.

Dribbling and Shooting

The combination
of dribbling and
shooting enables
children to distin-
guish different
situations during
the game (near
the basket you
must shoot
immediately, far
from the basket
you dribble to get

1. All Together
to the Basket:
divide the
children into
two teams
(one ball
each) and
have them
stand (back
to back) in
the middle
of the court
(as shown is
diagram). At
a signal from
t h e
I n s t r u c t o r,
all of the
members of
the two
teams begin
to dribble
o u s l y
towards the
basket of the
(which they
are facing).
Those who

score a bas-
ket dribble
back quickly
to the start-
ing point,
while those
who do not
score imme-
diately have
t h r e e
chances to
do so. If they
do not score
after their
t h r e e
they return
to the start-
ing point
t e a m
the game
first and
has all of
the chil-
dren sit-
t i n g
d o w n
w i n s .
T h e
g a m e
can also
be start-
ed from
a sitting
lying on
back or
o n
t u m m y,
and the

s h o t s
may be a
j u m p
stop and
stop pass
a n d
shoot, or

2. The same game, but with an initial pivot (front or reverse) at the sig-
nal. The children dribble and then shoot towards the opposite basket
from their starting points.
3. Relay Race with Dribbling and Shooting: the children are divided into
two groups (one ball each). At the signal, the first child of each team
begins to dribble, stops and shoots. If the child scores a basket he or
she quickly returns to the starting point, otherwise the child has three
tries to make a basket. After the three tries have been used up, the
child returns to the starting point. The team which manages to score
the highest number of baskets in a set period of time wins.
4. The same relay race may be played allowing only one chance for each
child to shoot. (The second child starts when the first has shot).
5. D r i b b l e
the chil-
d r e n
into two
(one ball

each or
one ball
for each

6. Circle Game: divide the children into two teams (one ball each).

7. Game of the Three Circles: divide the children into two teams.

8. Slalom Relay Race from half-court: divide the children into two teams

(one ball each). At the signal, the first children of each team start and
dribble between the pins, reach the basket, stop and shoot. The sec-
ond of the line starts when the first catches the rebound. The team
which manages to make the most baskets in a set period of time

9. Parallel Relay Race: divide the children into three or four teams (one
ball each) and line them up behind the end line. When the Instructor
gives the go, the first of each line starts and dribbles towards the
opposite basket, stops and shoots (three shots available), then returns
after getting the rebound, and touches the second of the line who
then starts. The team which manages to score the most baskets in a
set period of time wins.The shots may be a stop, step and shoot, lay-

up, using all types of shots.

10. Dribble from half-court, change direction and go for a basket from

the right and from the left, with the right and with the left hand.

11. Dribble from half-court (different openings, self-passing, stop and

starting dribbling) and shoot (jump stop and shoot; jump stop, step

and shoot; lay-up; reverse lay-up, etc.).

12. Dribble from half-court, pivot and shoot.

13. Combination of different types of dribbling and shooting from end-

line and half-court.

14. Start dribbling (choose from time to time a different type of start) and


15. Teach technique of lay-ups (depending on the age of the children)

(see Table-18).

1. In pairs, one ball each, exchange balls (standing, kneeling, sitting,
lying on tummy).
2. Same game-drill in groups of three, four and five.
3. In pairs, side by side, a figure 8 around legs, then exchange balls.
4. In pairs, one ball each, pass ball using all the possibilities.
5. Same game-drill in groups of three, four and five.
6. Like previous game-drills, gradually reduce the number of balls until
there is one ball for every two, three, four and five children: pass ball
and count how many passes can be made in a set period of time.
7. In pairs, (one ball each pair): the first of the pair walks and hands-off
to the child following; repeat (without making any step violations).
8. Same game-
drill in
groups of
three, four
and five
(walking and
9. In pairs fac-
ing each
other: pass
the ball, fak-
ing a shot.
10. In pairs, skip pass (raise one hand to signal a teammate to pass the
ball and move sideways to catch it).
11. In pairs, side by side: pass the ball with one hand behind the back.
12. In pairs, run around a circle, pass the ball; at a signal run in opposite
13. Divide the children into two teams (one ball for each team) and line
them up. At the go, the first in line rolls the ball between the legs of
team members, and the last retrieves the ball and dribbles to the front
of in the line. The teams in which the child who began the game
returns to the front of the line first wins.
14. Same game sitting down.
15. Same game with lateral twisting of trunk (standing and sitting down).
16. The Train Game: like previous games, with the variant that the ball

starts from behind and at the signal is passed in front (the passer must
run to front of the line to allow the ball to slide forwards). The team
which first manages to reach a set marker with the ball wins.

17. Zig-zag Passing Game: divide the children into two teams as shown in
diagram. At the go, the children begin to pass the ball and count how
many passes in a row they can make in a set period of time.

18. Star Passing: position the children as shown in diagram (one ball each
team). At the go, the children begin to pass the ball. The team which
makes the most passes in a set period of time wins. The children can-
not pass the ball to the closest team member.

19. Double Star

Passing: like
the previous
with two
teams (and
two balls)
passing the
ball at the
same time.
20. Pass and Move:

two lines facing each other, pass the ball and go to the bottom of

the other line;

two lines facing each other, pass the ball and go to the bottom of

own line;

Pass and Run (in groups of four), pass the ball and change place
with another child;

one child passes the ball to the child in front and moves to receive
the return pass;

children in a circle with a passer in the middle. The ball is passed

from outside to the centre (with change of position after pass);
children in a square, pass the ball and change position (clockwise
and counterclockwise) and at the signal change direction;
children in a square (with two balls), pass the ball crossing passes
(at the signal change direction);
same game-drill, changing place after passing.
21. Two lines: pass the ball and move towards the next player.
22. Two lines: pass the ball and go to bottom of own line.
23. Two lines: pass the ball and move to the right; the receiver passes and
moves to the left;
24. Game-drill in progression to teach passing on the move (Tic-Tac in
two, three, four and five):
in pairs (one ball each pair), walk sideways and pass the ball;
in pairs, same drill, running sideways;

in pairs, pass the ball, running forwards (with feet pointing for-
ward). It is important not to pass the ball backwards, or too high,
too low, too fast (tell children that when they have possession of
the ball they must pass inmediately).
in pairs, run and pass the ball in all directions.
25. Game-drills of Tic-Tac in twos to the left, to the right, in the middle
of the court (with changes of direction at a signal of the Instructor).
26. Tic-Tac in twos: count how many passes the pair manages to make
before reaching the end-line.While working on passes, it is useful to
finish all game-drills by shooting or with a lay-up.
27. Tic-Tac in pairs with objects placed in the court (training peripheral
28. Two lines at end-line, without a ball. The Instructor throws or rolls
or bounces the ball forward and the pairs run to retrieve it. The play-
er who catches the ball does Tic-Tac in twos.
29. Same teaching progression used in Tic-Tac in pairs is used for Tic-
Tac in groups of three, four and five.

30. Tic-Tac in
threes with two
31. Tic-Tac in
twos, in threes, in
fours, in fives
starting from a
32. Weaving in
threes, fours, fives
(wide, narrow,
with a dribble).

Dribbling, Passing and Shooting

1. Dribble freely in the court and at a signal exchange the ball with the
other children, then continue to dribble.
2. In pairs, one child stands with legs apart and stretches arms. Another
child with the ball stands at a distance of 3-4 meters. At the signal,
the child with the ball starts to dribble, passes under the arms of the
child standing still, circles around the child, dribbles back, stops, piv-
ots (front and reverse) and passes the ball to the other child who
repeats the drill.
3. In pairs, one child with the ball and the other at a distance of 3-4
meters. The child with the ball starts to dribble and stops in front of
the other and gives a hand-off pass. The other child starts to dribble
while the first child reverse walks back to the starting point and the
exercise is repeated.
4. The same game-drill in threes, in fours and in fives.
5. In pairs, side by side (one ball each), dribble and at a signal from the
Instructor, change place and dribble with the other childs ball.
6. The same game-drill in threes, in fours and in fives.
7. The same game-drills walking, running in a line.
8. In pairs, one child dribbles simultaneously with two balls and at a
signal passes them both to
the other childs, who drib-
bles in turn. The same
game-drill may be per-
formed walking and run-
9. Repeat the didactic pro-
gression of the Tic-Tac in
groups of two, three, four
and five, introducing the
dribble (dribble, stop,
pass). Remind children to
dribble with the right hand
on the right hand side and
with the left hand on the
left hand side.
10. Relays with dribbling,
jump stop and passing in
twos and in threes.

11. The same game-drills, dribbling without a stop.

12. Line up the children at the four corners of a half-court, one ball for
each team. At the signal, the first child of each team starts and drib-
bles to the half-circle, stops, turns, passes the ball to the second in
line and runs back. The team which in a set period of time makes the
most passes wins.
13. The same game-drill, passing to the left and following to the left.
14. The same game-drill with the difference that after the stop the child
must pass the ball to the line in front and follow the pass.
15. Tic-Tac in twos (in the form of competition and teaching drill).
16. Tic-Tac in groups of three, four and five (one way or forward and
17. Give and go in pairs (pass
the ball and go to shoot
near the basket).
18. In pairs, one shoots and
the other goes for the
rebound and passes the
ball out (three shots each,
then change).
19. The same drill but with the
variation that the child
going for the rebound
passes the ball to the other
who has moved outside
the lane to shoot.
20. Tic-Tac in groups of two,
three, four and five from
a rebound, a shot by the
Instructor, etc.

21. Weaving in threes, in fours and in fives, one way or forward and
22. Two lines behind the end-line, one child rolls the ball forward, the
other runs to retrieve it, passes it to the first child who in the mean-
time has entered the court and plays a give and go (from right and
from left, with the right and the left hand).
23. Tic-Tac in twos, in threes, in fours and in fives with dribbling, jump
stop, pass and shooting (all types of shots changing positions). The
progression follows the work done initially for the Tic-Tac in twos.
24. Tic-Tac in threes starting from a rebound, passing to the player who
is in the middle of the court and who dribbles to the other basket,
stops and passes the ball to the cutter. It is practically a fast-break,
dividing the court into three parts (centre, right and left).
25. Game-drills dribbling, passing and shooting with variations:
Tic-Tac in threes with two balls;
hand-off passing and receiving, then dribble;
dribble, pass to support and shoot;
pass to a teammate, follow to receive the ball and pass to the team-
mate who has gone for the basket;
two lines from half-court, pass the ball to a teammate, follow and
receive, dribble to get close to the basket and then pass the ball to
the cutter.
26. Four Corners: place the children in the four corners of the court
(two balls). At the signal, the two children in possession of the ball
start, dribble up to the half-circle of the opposite basket, stop, pass
the ball and go to shoot receiving a return pass. This may be done
from the right and the left, with the right and the left hand.
27. Combination of different types of dribbling, passing and shooting;
passing, dribbling and shooting; shooting, dribbling and passing, etc.

The combinations of dribbling, passing and shooting must be

explained to the children so that they understand their significan-
ce, the right moment to try them, how to chose the most appro-
priate, etc.

As can be seen, during mini-basketball lessons a large variety of interest-

ing, amusing and fun game-drills may be used.

Defense and Combination with Dribbling, Passing and

When playing, sometimes a team defends and sometimes it is in an offen-
sive position. Therefore, if a player has the ball he or she must try to defend
it (understanding the movements of ones own body, good ball-handling,
knowledge of space and time, etc.).
If the opponent takes the ball away, then the team must be able to get pos-
session of it again (without making fouls, therefore with good balance and
coordination) and must also be able to defend the teams basket.
These concepts are not clear to children in the beginning, so the Instructor
must propose logical game-drills, which are motivating and help children to

that the ball must be defended (ball protection);

that if you are guarding against the player with the ball you have to
do more than try to take it away;
that if you are defending the player without the ball, you must stop
him/her from receiving it (children instead try to grab the ball).

It is also important to help children understand in which basket they must

shoot and which basket they must defend.

1. 1 on 1, one ball each, try to

touch the back of the oppo-
nent, the legs, the ball (the
first to reach a previously
set score wins).
2. The same game may be
played in groups of three,
four and five (increasing the
difficulty of the game:
peripheral vision, coordina-
tion, etc.).
3. The same game may be
played as a Free for All to
be played full court (who-
ever loses the ball is elimi-
nated: if the ball goes out of
the court, the child is elimi-
nated, etc.).
Aleksandar Avakumovic

Methodolical Advices
Session-1: Teaching Dribbling Technique
Session-2: Passing Technique and Individual Tactics
Session-3: Practising Fast-Break Fundamentals
Session-4: Defensive Fundamentals
Session-5: Practising Screening
Session-6: Practising Fast-Break
Session-7: Practising Defense
Session-8: Teaching Screens
Session-9: Practising Defense
Session-10: Practising Fast-Break and Set Offense with Screens
Session-11: Basics of Faking to Receive the Ball, Passing, Using Screens and Disadvantage
Session-12: Defensive Tasks: Blocking out, Rebound, Double Team and Positioning
According to Ball
Session-13: Teaching the Passing Technique
Session-14: Continue Teaching of Passing with Stopping and Pivoting. Defense: Distance
and Positioning
Session-15: Elements for Organised Fast-Break
Session-16: Practising Defense Elements
Session-17: Moving Around the Court and Practising Fast-Break
Session-18: Defense Positioning
Session-19: Teaching Fundamentals of the Fast-Break
Session-20: Defense and Flashing
Session-21: Cooperation in Offense
Session-22: Practising Fast-Break, and Contest Drills
Session-23: Transition and Fast-Break Drills
Session-24: Fast-Break and Contest

Methodological Advices

Forget about tactics until your players have learned the technique because
knowing the tactics without having the technique turns out to be a bad bas-
ketball product.
Always ask for a full commitment, high concentration and discipline from
young players.
The teaching process starts with simple tasks that gradually become more
Details must be stressed, demonstrated and demanded in the execution.
A maximum of a 25% of new elements can be incorporated in every prac-
Offense and defense must be trained parallel.
Drills must be executed in a small area first, and then in a bigger one.
You can influence the speed by expanding the space and decreasing the
Tall players must work on the same drills as the smaller ones in order to
learn the basic techniques.
Exclusively individual defense must be trained.
Special attention must be placed on stopping and pivoting.
Stress the balance of the players body, positioning of the feet, arms and
Triple threat (ball ready to either shoot, dribble or pass) is crucial in offen-
sive play.
When scrimmaging insist on a fast game with simple actions between two
or three players at the must.
Be strong when criticising and loud when supporting players.
Allow players to ask when they do not understand something. Your expla-
nations must be short and clear.
Mantain a high working level and a high concentration level among your
Demand from the players a complete mental presence.
Do not forget: a good game is the result of hard practices, more mentally
than physiologically.
Do not try to find gifted children, they will show up if you work well.

player with the ball

offensive player without the ball


coach with the ball

defensive player

new position of the defensive player

movement of offensive player without the ball

defensive movement



one-count stop (one-step stop)

two-count stop (two-step stop)

count leg (step leg)


flight of ball

jump shot or lay-up


feigned shot

advance step

delivering the ball

Table 19. Legend to follow the diagrams of this chapter.

Session-1 120 minutes

Goal: Teaching Dribbling Technique

warm-up: ballhandling drills (drills for handling the ball in movement);
(10 minutes)
dribble, step-fake with left foot, continue with roll dribble with right
hand, pass to teammate for a cut and double pass (work on both sides);
(see Diag.-1)
offensive player dribbles sideways, changes hands in one dribble and two
wide steps, and then passes and cuts for a double pass with loose defense.
Passer is in triple threat position before the pass; (see Diag.-2)
after passing to coach and stopping in two steps, back pivot with right
foot and penetrate to the left side with crossover step (work on other foot
and other side); (see Diag.-3)
dribble back and forth using same-foot-same-hand technique with
change of pace in the penetration (stronger); (see Diag.-4)
left-handed dribble to middle, stop on right foot, drop step with left foot,
right-handed shoulder pass to next player in line counter clockwise.
Passer goes to the end of his/her line (work in both directions); (see
1 on 1 half court. Dribble starts with cross-over step after combining front
and back pivot. Defense does not try to steal but follows the offense slid-
ing in correct defending position;
free throws: 2 times 2 shots made in a row.

dribble is executed without looking at the ball;
it is compulsory to dribble to the left side with left hand and to the right
side with right hand;
it is useful to start dribble with weaker hand so that the player can save
the stronger one for more difficult situations;
dribble should be made using the hand furthest from the opponent.

Diag. 1 15 min. Diag. 4 20 min.

Diag. 2 15 min. Diag. 5 15 min.

Diag. 3 20 min.

Session-2 120 minutes

Goal: Passing Technique and Individual Tactics

warm up: ballhandling drills in movement; (10 minutes)
receive the ball in two-count step and then pass with one-hand shoulder
pass; (see Diag.-6)
after passing to coach, receiving is made in two-count step, then after
back pivot, pass to coach. Finish with a cut for a return pass and lay-up;
(see Diag.-7)
getting open for the pass by moving in a triangle with two balls; (see
one hand pass and move; (see Diag.-9)
2 on 2 half court, passing after pivot and cut for a return pass, complete
action without a dribble; (20 minutes)
practise timing for a pass when defensive player is coming from the
opposite side, then pass from a back pivot and cut for a return pass with
a loose defense; (see Diag.-10)
jump shoot after double pass with one-step stop; (see Diag.-11)
free throws: 2 times 2 shots made in a row.

when passing two-step balance is very important;
when back pivoting protect the ball with elbow above the shoulder;
all passes should be sharp and made in straight line.

Diag. 6 10 min. Diag. 9 10 min.

Diag. 7 15 min.

Diag. 10 20 min.

Diag. 11 10 min.

Diag. 8 20 min.

Session-3 120 minutes

Goal: Practising Fast-Break Fundamentals

warm up: stretching and ballhandling drills in movement; (10 minutes)
crisscross drill with 5 players, 3 on 2 in return. When return shooter and
passer are on the defense; (15 minutes)
1 on 1+1 on 0; last pass to a player who stops in two-count step and then
drives to the basket (work on both sides); (see Diag.-12)
2 on 2 Fast-Break situation; (see Diag.-13)
1+2 on 2; Fast-Break with man to man principles. The players on the
first and second pass are closely guarded. In return players change roles;
(see Diag.-14)
4 on 0; (see Diag.-15)
free throws: 3 foul shots made in a row. Player who misses is out.
Continue playing until you have a winner (15 minutes).

players without the ball
should try hard to be ahead
of the ball;
when running, player should
have head turned towards the
ball at every moment;
when offense and defense are
running side by side, offense
should come out in front of
the defensive player present-
ing a better angle for receiv-
ing the ball.

Diag. 12 20 min. Diag. 14 20 min.

Diag. 13 20 min.

Diag. 15 20 min.

Session-4 120 minutes

Goal: Defensive Fundamentals

warm up: ballhandling drills in movement; 10 min.
a)-offensive player steps to one or the other side. Defensive player slides
in front of the possible penetration; (see Diag.-16)
b)-same as previous but offensive player throws ball to one side for two
step stop. Defense protects drives; (see Diag.-17)
c)-step out after flashing and receiving the ball from a teammate (see
1+2 on 2; player with ball in point guard position dribbles side to side
with wing players trying to get open. Defensive players are in open or
closed stance according to ball position. After receiving the ball play 1
on 1; (see Diag.-19)
3 on 2 half-court; after shooting, shooter plays defense and defenders
play offense (2 on 1) to the other end of the court; (see Diag.-20)
1 on 1; defense against cutting: setting the body to a line of the offensive
movement. Player with ball tries to pass from a dribble. After the shot,
offense goes to defense and plays 2 on 1; (see Diag.-21)
5 on 5 scrimmage; offense: no dribble, use pivoting; defense: pressure
with special attention to the ball; (20 minutes);
free throws: 2 times 3 shots made in a row.

when offense is stepping out, defense should be in front with half of a
body width to a ball;
on ball side take closed stance, and on help side open stance;
when setting 3 on 2 defense, second defender in vertical order always
goes for the first pass and front player goes to middle of the paint;
player with ball is guarded in almost parallel stance.

Diag. 16 8 min. Diag. 19 20 min.

Diag. 17 8 min. Diag. 20 20 min.

Diag. 18 9 min. Diag. 21 20 min.


Session-5 120 minutes

Goal: Practising Screening

warm up: stretching and ballhandling drills in movement; (10 minutes)
a)-2 on 0; leading to a pick with a dribble and picker roll-off to a basket;
(see Diag.-22)
b)-1 on 1+1 on 0; dribble lead to a pick; pass to a picker after roll-off
toward the basket; (see Diag.-23)
a)-3 on 0; screen away and cut, leading to a screen; (see Diag.-24)
b)-screen away with defense on a screened player; (see Diag.-25)
c)-defensive player on a screener pops out and stops screened player;
(see Diag.-26)
1 on 1+1; sliding defense in front of the screen. Player dribbling passes
to the screener after roll-off to the basket; (see Diag.-27)
3 on 3 full court both sides. Offense: no dribble, only pivot. Defense:
press; (20 minutes)
jump shot after passing to coach. Defense loose; (15 minutes)
free throws: 3 times 3 shots. Player who makes three in a row finishes.

player who will be screened
leads defense to screen level;
to have successful screen,
screened player at the
moment of changing direc-
tion should not be too far or
too close to the screen;
screener, when rolling-off,
must see the ball whole time.

Diag. 22 10 min. Diag. 25 10 min.

Diag. 23 10 min. Diag. 26 10 min.

Diag. 24 10 min. Diag. 27 20 min.


Session-6 120 minutes

Goal: Practising Fast-Break

warm up: ballhandling drills in movement; 10 minutes
receive the ball in a fast-break with two-step stop and after a step for-
ward pass to the player at the other side who also stops with two counts
and then drives to the basket; (see Diag.-29)
3 on 2; starting the fast-break. One defender is coming from disadvan-
tage position; (see Diag.-30)
3 on 0; fast-break with two passes; (see Diag.-31)
3 on 3 in both directions. Offense: no-dribble game; (see Diag.-32)
fast-break 4 on 4 with outlet pass to a side line. Defense just follows;
(see Diag.-33)
scrimmage game. Offense uses short passes to a first open man and drib-
bles only for penetration. Defense: fast transition and play aggressively
on player with ball; (20 minutes)
3 times 3 free throws.

Diag. 29 15 min.
players in front of the ball
should always have head
turned towards the ball and
at the moment of passing be
ready to receive it;
when stopping to catch
longer passes feet should be
in full contact with ground.

Diag. 30 20 min. Diag. 32 10 min.

Diag. 31 20 min. Diag. 33 20 min.


Session-7 120 minutes

Goal: Practising Defense

warm up: ballhandling drills in movement; (10 minutes)
2 on 1; defensive player defends offensive player with ball. Offensive
player with ball pivots and passes to the teammate, then changes posi-
tion. Player who catches the ball also pivots and returns the ball to the
first player; this player penetrates against defensive player. Defense fol-
lows the ball from one offensive player to another; (see Diag.-34)
catching the offensive player from a disadvantage position; (see Diag.-
1 on 1; offensive player is stopped while cutting and after that flashes
away from the ball. After pass, player from other side sets a screen to let
him drive; (see Diag.-36)
1+2 on 2: against the screen on a help side. Creating the space for defen-
sive player 2 so that he/she can avoid the screen; (see Diag.-37)
3 on 1; two defensive players act from disadvantage position; (see Diag.-
defensive player meets the offensive player in the dribble. Then offen-
sive player passes to a teammate and receives the ball back for a jump
shot. Defense follows the ball from one offensive player to another; (see
2 times 3 made free throws.

in disadvantage situations teach defense to find good positions and to
be very strong in that;
when cutting, defensive player must use his body to stop movement in
that direction;
when leading to a pick with a dribble, defense must slide in front of
the set pick.

Diag. 34 15 min. Diag. 38 20 min.

Diag. 35 10 min. Diag. 39 15 min.

Diag. 36 20 min.

Diag. 37 20 min.

Session-8 120 minutes

Goal: Teaching Screens

warm up: stretching an ballhandling drills in movement; (10 minutes)
vertical movement using a screen with roll-off of a blocker; (see Diag.-40)
back door cut on the help side; (see Diag.-41)
leading to a screen away from the ball; (see Diag.-42)
involving a third man in pick and roll; (see Diag.-43)
scrimmage game. Offense: setting and using screens, 2 on 2 and 2 on 2+1
Defense: defending with sliding in front of a pick and helping with body
in front of an offensive player and body-checking the screener; (20 min-
2 times 3 free throws.

angle for setting a screen is related to the angle of the player wishing
to use that screen;
at the moment of leading to a screen or a pick, player should change
pace of his movement.

Diag. 40 20 min. Diag. 42 20 min.

Diag. 41 20 min. Diag. 43 25 min.


Session-9 120 minutes

Goal: Practising Defense

warm up: stretching and ballhandling drills in movement; (10 minutes)
defense from a disadvantage situation after a pass, then pass to coach
and cut; (see Diag.-44)
2 on 1: overplay on a player without ball. After faking, receive the ball
and return it to a free teammate. Defense follows ball and one of the
offensive players executes a jump shot; (see Diag.-45)
double team drill with transition to opposite side; (see Diag.-46)
3 on 3: after inbound pass from the side line, defensive players 3 and 1
double team while defensive player 2 plays defense on offensive player
X2. After inbound pass X3 cuts. Double team is executed with a player
who can see position of the ball; (see Diag.-47)
1 on 1 game using 1/4 of the court until 5 made shots. First ball goes to
the player winning free throw competition. Winner ends drill. Other
players out of bounds waiting for their turn; (see Diag.-48)
2 times 3 free throws. Diag. 44 20 min.

player in a dribble should be
forced to play in a smaller
at the moment of holding the
ball, another defensive player
approaches to carry out dou-
ble team;
double team is always execut-
ed with a player who can see
position of the player receiv-
ing the ball.

Diag. 45 20 min. Diag. 47 20 min.

Diag. 46 20 min.

Diag. 48 25 min.

Session-10 120 minutes

Goal: Practising Fast-Break and Set Offense with Screens

warm up: stretching and ballhandling drills in movement; (10 minutes)
1 on 1 + 1; back door (15 minutes) (see Diag.-49)
a)-3 on 0, 3 on 3; offensive player X2 passes to X3 and sets a screen for
X1 who cuts. If he does not receive the pass, X3 passes to X2 and
screens X1 at low post. X1 uses this screen for a jump shot from wing
position. After screen X3 roll-off to the basket for a pass; (see Diag.-
b)-continuing X3 sets a screen for X2 who cuts (work with and without
defense); (see Diag.-51)
a)-fast-break 5 on 0 and secondary fast-break; (see Diag.-52)
b)-continued movement from secondary fast-break; (see Diag.-53)
scrimmage game (4 teams contest - direct elimination): offense uses only
one dribble for a drive, using fast-break and screens in two-man game.
Defense forces to side line, overplays the pass and passing lanes; (30 min-
free throws: 3 foul shots made in a row.

when executing back door,
stress longer leading
movement so that defense
comes further away from the
screener always waits for
teammate to use the screen
and then rolls-off;
depth in setting the players in
final phase of fast-break
allows easier cutting and
transformation to secondary

Diag. 49 15 min. Diag. 52 10 min.

Diag. 50 15 min. Diag. 53 15 min.

Diag. 51 15 min.

Session-11 120 minutes

Goal: Basics of Faking to Receive the Ball, Passing,

Using Screens and Disadvantage Situations

warm up: stretching and ballhandling drills in movement; (10 minutes)
1 on 1; offensive player without the ball flashes in movement along the
court. Coach holding ball at his side passes to offensive player who
returns the ball and proceeds to the next coach. When third ball received,
offensive player plays to score; (see Diag.-54)
2 on 2; two man game with screens. Screns are set on off-ball side; two
coaches help; (see Diag.-55)
disadvantage drill 4 on 5; offense with quick passes creates free lanes for
a drive. After penetration offensive player with ball passes to an open
After the shot defense plays offense on other basket against 3 defensive
players (4 on 3) using same principles. First shooter goes to one side and
waits for next offense.
After completing 4 on 3, new 5-man team is created with two new play-
ers from the side; (see Diag.-56)
2 on 2 contest using pick and roll. On each half court two pairs play for
the same amount of time to 5 made shots. At the end winners play for
champion; (15 minutes)
free throw contest. Player is eliminated if he does not make three in a

in disadvantage situation, rotation in defense is executed;
after passing to coach, offense should spread out moving from the ball
for the next action;
when leading to a screen, change pace.

Diag. 54 20 min. Diag. 56 25 min.

Diag. 55 20 min.

Session n. 12 120 minutes

Goal: Defensive Tasks: Blocking Out, Rebound,

Double Team and Positioning According to Ball

warm up: stretching and ballhandling drills in movement; (10 minutes)
2 on 2; after drive, defense plays help and recover: offense must spread
when defense helps. Full court; (see Diag.-57)
4 on 4; four corner drill: Offensive players pass. When the ball is
received, triple threat position is a must (ball ready to shoot, dribble
or pass). After pass, cut. If is possible, pass to cutter. Defense overplays.
(see Diag.-58)
3 on 3 half court, after shot defense blocks out, rebounds and runs fast-
break. On other half court, 4 defensive players wait and double team the
ball. When offense finishes, coach points to the worst defensive player
who stays in defense while the rest go to offense on other basket; (see
scrimmage game contest (four teams-direct elimination): Offense: use
one dribble for penetration, fast-
break and pick and roll. Defense:
aggressive to player with ball, dou-
ble team the ball, block out and
rebound; (35 minutes)
free throw contest. Player is out if
he does not make three in a row.

offensive player along a base-
line is guarded keeping the
ball in sight while not losing
control over the player;
double team is executed
when offense picks up ball or
when area for handling the
ball is small.

Diag. 57 15 min. Diag. 59 25 min.

Diag. 58 25 min.

Session-13 120 minutes

Goal: Teaching the Passing Technique

warm-up: ballhandling drills (drills for handling the ball in movement);
(10 minutes)
a)-one-hand pass with cross-over step using both hands;
b)-two-hand chest pass with continuous movement to the ball. (see
toos the ball, stop and catch, pivot combination (back and front pivot),
one-hand pass; (see Diag.-61)
move towards the thrown ball to the floor, stop and catch, one hand shoul-
der pass to the coach. L cut and after receiving the ball lay-up. (see Diag.-
one-hand stationary pass with a step forward; two-hand chest pass from
the movement and lay-up after receiving the ball. (see Diag.-63)
1 on 1 defensive sliding. Change roles on coachs signal.
a)-without the ball;
b)-with a dribble move. (see Diag.-64)
pivot, pass, flash and cut. Defense follows. (see Diag.-65)
fast-break 2 on 1 situation; (see Diag.-66)
game contest: Offense: two-hand chest passes and one-hand shoulder
passes. Play with only one dribble for the penetration. Pass to closest
teammate. Must pivot upon stopping. Move after every pass.
Defense: create responsibility for your own man. Be aggressive with
the ball. Get the best position to see your man and the ball.
free throws: make 3 in a row

complete follow up with one hand at pass;
elbows should not be too far out when holding the ball;
pass must be strong and fast;
moving is compulsory after a pass, and very recommendable before
receiving the pass;
one step stop must be executed in full balance (knees and hips semi-bent);
pivoting wide and in balance (body weight equal on both feet).

Diag. 60 5 min. Diag. 64 15 min.

Diag. 61 5 min.

Diag. 65 15 min.

Diag. 62 10 min.

Diag. 63 10 min. Diag. 66 15 min.


Session 14 120 minutes

Goals: Continue Teaching of Passing with Stopping and Pivoting

Defense: Distance and Positioning

warm up: ballhandling dribbling drills. (10 minutes)
pass, move, one step stop, back pivot and chest two-hand pass (front
pivot); (see Diag.-67)
one-hand shoulder pass, one step stop, shot fake, back pivot, front pivot
and lay-up to the left (right) side; (see Diag.-68)
dribble, one step stop, back pivot, one-hand shoulder pass and move
after the pass; (see Diag.-69)
2 on 1 continuous from both sides. Shooter becomes defensive player in
the next action. One hand passes from the dribble. Offense must stay at
same level. Defense runs from one offensive player to another; (see
two-man team: players receive the ball after the move and stop, then
one-hand pass and movement again. Combine front and reverse pivot-
ing; (see Diag.-71)
a)-1 on 1: defense of offensive player with ball. 1 on 1 defense of offen-
sive player without ball in ball or help side; (see Diag.-72)
b)-1 on 1: defense of offensive player without the ball (see Diag.-73)
5 on 5 on 5 Defense is waiting on half court line. Offense uses only one
dribble for the penetration. Stress the pivoting and passing. Scoring
offense stays in offense on the opposite side. If miss, goes to defense;
Free throws: 2 times 3 shots in a row

when pivoting protect the ball further from the defense and hold it on a
far hip. Elbows in front of defensive player;
in defense player always has responsibility for guarding his man but at
the same time must see position of the ball;
distance between defensive and offensive player depends directly on dis-
tance of the ball;
as the ball gets closer, defense is closer and more aggressive on a player
and viceversa.
Diag. 67 5 min. Diag. 71 10 min.

Diag. 68 2 x 5 min. Diag. 72 10 min.

Diag. 69 10 min. Diag. 73 10 min.

15 min.
Diag. 70

Session-15 120 minutes

Goal: Elements for Organised Fast-Break

warm-up: ballhandling in movement. (10 minutes)
two-step stop after the dribble, front pivot around pivot foot, one step
forward (left foot) and one-hand pass to teammaate; (see Diag.-74)
2 on 0 fast-break situation one way; and return 1 on 1; (see Diag.-75)
1 on 1 offensive player rools the ball and chases it, followed by the defen-
sive player; when offensive player catches the ball, pivots, passes to
teammate and changes to defense. Drill repeated on the other side; (see
fast-break 3 on 0: on return shooter runs to the free throw line and plays
defense against teammates (2 on 1); (see Diag.-77)
return pass after the dribble, then stop and jump shot; (see Diag.-78)
jump shot to end fast-break; (see Diag.-79)
2 on 2 on 2: flash, going into triple threat position while other player
also flashes. After the pass players cut to the basket. Defense goes to
offense on the other side of the court. Basic principle is flashing and cut-
ting for the pass; no dribble; (see Diag.-80)
offense changes direction in dribbling and stops in front of the defense
for jump shot over the defense ; defensive player stands with arms up;
(see Diag.-81)

in fast-break players without
the ball should be in front of
the ball;
for successful fast-break
depth and width of move-
ment are important;
good timing when passing
the ball is half of good
final pass before the lay-up
usually is bounce pass.

Diag. 74 5 min. Diag. 75 15 min.


Diag. 76 10 min. Diag. 77 15 min.


Diag. 78 10 min. Diag. 80 30 min.

Diag. 79 10 min. Diag. 81 10 min.


Session-16 120 minutes

Goal: Practising Defense Elements

warm up: players are divided into two teams. Using passes only, try to
approach opposite players and hit them with the ball; every hit counts
as a point;
passing and moving drill into the hexagon; two-hand chest pass is used.
Drill is executed with two balls and in two directions; (see Diag.-82)
1 on 1 position: offensive player dribbles back and forth using crossover
dribbling, then passes to teammate and cuts for the ball. Defense only
guards, without trying to steal or intercept the ball; (see Diag.-83)
defense in disadvantage situations; (see Diag.-84)
1 on 1 without ball: offensive player cuts from the help side to the ball side.
Defensive player always stays in front of offensive player; (see Diag.-85)
1 on 1 without ball; (see Diag.-86)
3 on 2 in triangle; offense may pivot and fake. While one defensive play-
er is aggressive on the ball, the other positions himself between two
offensive players. If defense touches the ball, play 2 on 1 to the opposite
basket against offensive player who made the mistake; (see Diag.-87)
2 on 1: defensive player defends player with the ball and after the pass
runs for the other offensive player who returns the ball to his teammate.
This player plays 1 on 1 against the defensive player. (see Diag.-88)
full court game; defense: full court pressing; offense: Fast-Break, no drib-
ble game.

aggressive defense on player with ball in parallel stance;
in defensive stance use sliding and running;
never cross legs while moving in defense;
always be prepared to approach the player at the same time as he
receives the ball;
good balance in the stance allows quick change of position and easy
retrieving backwards.

Diag. 82 5 min. Diag. 86 15 min.

Diag. 87 15 min.

Diag. 83 10 min.

Diag. 88 15 min.

Diag. 84 10 min.

Diag. 85 15 min.

Session-17 120 minutes

Goal: Moving Around the Court and Practising Fast-Break

warm up: - ballhandling drills in movement (10 minutes)
passing in movement, two lines from different sides set into a cross-posi-
tion. One line uses direct one-hand shoulder pass and the other uses
bounce pass with one-hand from the shoulder; (see Diag.-89)
dribble, moving backwards and using continuous step, dribble the ball
diagonally from one side of the court to another using the width of the
court; (see Diag.-90)
sliding drill - offensive player moves in different directions, using change
of pace and direction. Defensive player follows aggressively in a close
position trying not to let offense change sides easily; (see Diag.-91)
after receiving the pass dribble and perform one-hand shoulder pass to
teammate who uses two-step stop from full speed and then penetrates
with cross over lay-up (drill is used from both sides); (see Diag.-92)
fast-break situation: 2 on 1 with help from disadvantaged defensive play-
er. Continuation in transition game 2 on 2 on the other side; (see Diag.-
3 on 0 fast-break. In opposite direction transition 2 on 1 with shooter
going to defense; (see Diag.-94)
2 on 2 game with two balls (one ball on each side of the court). Ball is
used for pivoting, give and go game with a coach, and cutting. After
playing offense on one side, move to defense on the other side; (see
give and go with coach and execution of close jump shot with one count
stop. Defense follows loosely. (see Diag.-96)

above all pay attention to details: stopping, reception of the ball and
protection of the ball;
balance when moving, and good timing are always necessary.

Diag. 89 10 min. Diag. 91 5 min.

Diag. 90 5 min.

Diag. 92 15 min. Diag. 94 20 min.

Diag. 93 20 min.

Diag. 95 20 min. Diag. 96 15 min.


Session-18 120 minutes

Goal: Defense Positioning

warm up: touch game with a ball. Two teams playing on time with
counted score;
flashing on 1/4 of the court and playing 1 on 1; (see Diag.-97)
2 on 2 flashing, two man cooperation with double pass, penetration and
Defense on player without the ball sets up help and follows both the
position of the ball and his player; (see Diag.-98)
give and go with loose defense and cutting to the basket; (see Diag.-99)
a)-3 on 0 cutting after the pass. Player with ball is in the triple threat
position. After a few cuts, Fast-Break on other basket; (see Diag.-100)
b)-same drill; on the other side three defensive players are waiting for
the Fast-Break. Drill can be organised in 3 on 3 on 3;
3 on 2 on half court; (see Diag.-101)
scrimmage game.
Offensive tasks: continuous movement without the ball in the open
spots, cutting with return pass, quick defense-offense-defense tran-
Defensive tasks: getting used to being towards the ball on help side;
aggressive play on the ball;
free throws: two-shot contest (should make both; if player misses, he is

defensive players should always see the ball;
distance between defensive player and the player without the ball
always depends on distance from the ball;
player should always be alert and ready to react, even when not close
to the ball.

Diag. 97 10 min. Diag. 100 20 min.

Diag. 98 15 min. Diag. 101 20 min.

Diag. 99 15 min.

Session-19 120 minutes

Goal: Teaching Fundamentals of the Fast-Break

warm up: ballhandling dribbling drills (10 minutes)
after the pass offense fakes and V cuts toward the basket. Defense fol-
lows in loose position. Drill es executed from both sides; (see Diag.-102)
2 on 1 in fast-break. Defensive player always with same offensive play-
er. Player defended passes and runs to other side of the court. Teammate
dribbles to the other side, then looks for the pass. Drill works as a tran-
sition in two directions: when return, former defensive player dribbles
and former shooter goes to defense; (see Diag.-103)
defense plays against fast-break in a disadvantage situation. Offense is
free to get open; (see Diag.-104)
defensive players cover space, trying to disturb the offense. Offensive
players fast-break, using free space; (see Diag.-105)
offense flashes using change of pace and direction. Passes to coach after
a pivot. Ball can be passed only to coach. Defense should watch ball and
man, trying not to permit cuts to the basket; (see Diag.-106)
3 on 2 continuous game. Players on one side with defensive players at
the opposite side. Shooter goes on one side, two other offensive players
go to defense; (see Diag.-107)
change of direction with cross-over dribble. Retrieve one step back and
execute the jump shot from one count stop after dribbling forward. (see

offensive players without ball must move towards free spot for the ball;
players without ball must be in constant movement in front of the ball;
good timing and precision in passing the ball are important for success-
ful fast-break.

Diag. 102 10 min. Diag. 104 15 min.

Diag. 103 15 min.

Diag. 105 20 min.


Diag. 106 20 min. Diag. 107 20 min.

Diag. 108 10 min.









Table 20. Tool to record good passes, bad passes and balls lost during fast-break drills.

Session n.20 130 minutes

Goal: Defense and Flashing

warm up: ballhandling skills in movement; (10 minutes)
1 on 1+1: flashing from guard position; (see Diag.-109)
flashing from forward position; (see Diag.-110)
open a spot for a cut under the basket; (see Diag.-111); after these moves
transition to opposite basket.
two balls and two coaches: 1 on 1 flashing, catch the ball with two step
stop, dribble and jump shot. Defense loose, no blocking; (see Diag.-112)
scrimmage game; offense: Fast-Break, passing the ball to closest team-
mate and cutting in front of the ball. Use dribble only for lay up. Defense:
aggressive on the ball, watching the ball and the player;
free throws: 3 shots in each round; after the first round those with no
points are out; after second round those without two points are out; after
third round those who did not make all three shots are out. Continue
until one winner left.

defensive player must see ball and man in every position;
on ball side player is guarded in a closed position;
on help side player is guarded in open position;
flashing is successful if move is made in sharp angles.

Diag. 109 15 min. Diag. 110 25 min.


Diag. 111 30 min. Diag. 112 15 min.




Table 21. The coach may use this kind of simple tool to assess players performance in trai-
ning sessions.

Session-21 120 minutes

Goal: Cooperation in Offense

warm up: ballhandling in movement and stretching (10 minutes)
cut with a return pass; (see Diag.-113)
flashing to opposite side and, after return pass, reception of the ball with
right hand, back pivot with left foot, shot fake and penetration with a
cross over step on right side, dribble and lay up (practise from both
sides); (see Diag.-114)
two-man game after hand-off pass and flashing for return pass; (see
2 on 1; defensive player on offensive player without ball; after flashing
and shot, defensive boxes out and gets rebound. After rebound outlet
pass to the shooter and 2 on 1 game to the opposite basket; (see Diag.-
2 on 2: help and recover on a penetration splitting the offense. Fast tran-
sition to opposite basket; (see Diag.-117)
return pass with coach; jump shot after one step stop; (see Diag.-118)
three consecutive free throws (players that misses is out).

after hand-off pass player must roll so as to see the ball for the whole
time and be ready to catch it again;
when defense helps, offensive player should go wide and find proper
angle to receive the ball.

Diag. 113 10 min. Diag. 114 15 min.


Diag. 115 20 min. Diag. 117 25 min.

Diag. 116 20 min. Diag. 118 15 min.


Session-22 125 minutes

Goals: Practising Fast-Break

Contest Drills

warm up: handling skills in movement, (10 minutes)
3 on 0; organised fast-break; on return 2 on 1: shooter goes to defense;
(see Diag.-119)
1 on 1: offensive player may use the coach; (see Diag.-120)
3 on 2, 3 on 3 continuous drill. After 3 on 2 shooter goes out, and two
other offensive players play defense. Two defensive players with a play-
er from the side play offense; (see Diag.-121)
1 on 1 contest from half court. Each player gets five attempts. Winner
stays in the game;
3 on 3 full court to 5 made shots (20 minutes)
free throw contest. Player not making 3 out of 3 shots is out.

Diag. 119 20 min.

patience and concentration
are key elements for good
results in contests;
in fast-break concentration
and reaction speed are impor-
tant elements;
in the game players must
play until the basket is scored
or until they gain possession
of the ball in defense.

Diag. 120 20 min. Diag. 121 20 min.



Table 22. Example of tool to record the results of free throw contests.

Session-23 120 minutes

Goal: Transition and Fast-Break Drills

warm up: ballhandling skills in movement; (10 minutes)
return pass with the coach after pivoting; loose defense; (see Diag.-122)
2 on 2 full court. Offense: as wide as possible. Defense: help and recov-
er; (see Diag.-123)
a) 4 on 0; b) 4 on 2 continuous drill; two players from side go to defense
and two defensive players with two offensive players play on opposite
basket. Shooter and passer move to side; (see Diag.-124)
1 on 1; loose defense. Offensive and defensive rebound after the shot.
Change roles on the other basket; (see Diag.-125)
3 on 3 on 3+ free players; team stays in offense if they make shot. Player
responsible for the basket goes to one side and new player comes; (see
three free throws made in a row. If player misses, he is out.

Diag. 122 20 min.

when blocking out in
defensive rebound player can
not turn his head and follow
the ball; first must make
contact with an offensive
player and stop him from
moving closer to the basket;
fast-break passing must be
fast and sharp;
try to avoid long passes on
width of the court;
dribble in fast-break is used
only for quick conquest of the

Diag. 123 20 min. Diag. 125 15 min.

Diag. 124 25 min. Diag. 126 20 min.


Session n.24 120 minutes

Goal: Fast-Break and Contest

warm up: ballhandling skills in movement, (10 minutes)
3 on 0 one way and 2 on 1 in return: shooter goes to defense; (see Diag.-
1 on 1: offensive player may use the coach; (see Diag.-128)
After completed offense on one side, three defensive players and shoot-
er attack other basket. Three new players from side go to defense and
three offensive players go to side; (see Diag.-129)
1 on 1 contest from half court. Each player gets five attempts. Winner
stays in the game;
3 on 3 full court to 5 made shots;
free throw contest. Only those who make 3 times 3 free throws in a row
stay in the game.

in contests make sure opponents have similar basketball skill level;
praise players for their effort.

Diag. 127 15 min. Diag. 129 20 min.

Diag. 128 15 min.

Jose Mara Buceta
Lszl Killik


Moving Without the Ball
Offensive Rebound
Low Post Moves
Criteria for Making Tactical Decisions
Some Examples
Team Defense Concepts
Zone Defense
Press Defense
Advanced Defense Strategy
Fast-Break and Transition
Man to Man Offense
Zone Offense
Press Offense
Other Aspects


When the players reach the age of fifteen, they already have basketball
experience, although there are remarkable individual differences among play-
ers. Some players master basic fundamentals better than others, some have
developed physically better than others, etc. Coaches working with 15-18
year-olds, should understand these differences, assessing the particular
resources and needs of each player (their stronger and weaker points) to
decide the goals and the contents of training.
As we have seen in previous chapters, in mini-basketball and 13-14 year-
old teams, training should be more global and standarised for all players.
However, with 15-18 year-olds, training should be more analytical and indi-
vidualised. At this stage of players development it is important to consider
their individual needs to widen players resources, making sure that training
helps every player to improve appropriately.
Following this pattern, coaches should consider that physical preparation
is an important aspect of training with these players. With 15-16 year-olds it
is important to prepare them for confronting, progressively, higher loads of
physical work. Thus, when players are older (17-18 year-olds) they will be capa-
ble of assimilating more sophisticated training, lowering the risk of injuries
that may occur when the demands of training exceed the players capabili-
Obviously, endurance, strength and speed are key aspects of the physical
work to be considered, but coaches should also take into account flexibility
and coordination. A common mistake is to underestimate the importance of
flexibility and coordination; and many players limit their progress due to defi-
ciencies in these aspects.
Players physical individual needs should be assessed; then, with the help
of experts in this field, coaches should devote part of the training programme
to developing physical aspects.
Likewise, players technical individual needs should be assessed, so that
coaches know how their players master basketball fundamentals and what
they need to improve.

* For example: the coach may assess his/her players shooting

technique in depth; then, he/she should organise analytical trai-
ning to improve individual deficiencies.

Following this example, a simple tool such as that shown in Table-23 may
help coaches to assess players individual needs with regard to basketball fun-




Table 23. Example of tool to assess individual needs, in this case related to shooting.


Besides analytical individualised work to improve basic fundamentals

such as passing, dribbling or shooting, coaches should take into account other
fundamentals which are usually given less importance during previous years.
As an example, we will comment on Moving Without the Ball, Offensive
Rebounding and Low Post Moves.

Offensive Player

Offensive Player with the Ball

Defensive Player




Movement of Offensive Player Without the Ball


Screen and Following Movement

Movement of Defensive Player

Table 24. Legend to follow the diagrams of this chapter.

Moving Without the Ball

In offense, only one player has the ball whereas the other four must play
without it. Therefore, moving without the ball is an essential part of the game.
Coaches should emphasise this issue from mini-basketball onwards, and
coaches working with 15-18 year-olds should spend time improving all the
fundamentals involved.
Offensive players without the ball may move with one of the following

to favour their teammate with the Diag. 1

ball to play 1 on 1 against his/her
defender by moving away from
the ball, bringing with them their
own defenders (Diagram-1);

to have a free passing lane to re- Diag. 2

ceive a pass from the teammate
who has the ball (Diagram-2);

to get open in a position to re- Diag. 3

ceive the ball and shoot, some-
times taking advantage of screens

to set screens for the teammates, Diag. 4

either for the one with the ball or
for the other three without the
ball (Diagram-4).

to go for the offensive rebound Diag. 5


Key aspects of moving efficiently without the ball are: appropriate body
stance and balance, convincing faking, good footwork, proper speed, ade-
quate running, and good stopping. Coaches working with 15-18 year-olds
should assess their players in all these aspects and help them to improve defi-

Body Stance
Basketball body stance is a basic position that allows players to perform.
It is not a natural bodily position and, therefore, players need to be taught
details such as the following:

legs spread, a bit more than shoulder width; feet parallel;

knees and hips slightly flexed, keeping the bodys centre of gra-
vity low;
head up, being able to see the ball and the basket (do not look at
the floor);
upper body slightly flexed;
body weight equally balanced on both feet, slightly on the toes;
hands ready to receive the ball, with arms held close to the chest.

The proper position of the body is important before moving because it

favours quicker action. And it is also important during the move because it
enables the player to both catch the ball in a better situation for shooting, pass-
ing or penetrating, and to stop firmly for setting a screen or gaining the spot
for the offensive rebound.
Concerning stance, the players must learn to differentiate when they
should fully face the ball (this is, a stance facing the ball completely) and
when they should face the basket while keeping their waist or neck turned to
see the ball, ready to get it. As in other aspects, coaches must observe how
their young players master these issues, and correct them if necessary.

Body Balance
Body balance relies on the basic position described above. However, play-
ers should learn to shift the degree of inflection of their legs, their weight from
one leg to the other, and the inclination of their upper body to perform effec-
tive moves without the ball.

* For example: the player may flex one of his/her legs more
than the other, stress his/her body weight on this leg and incline
his/her upper body in this direction, so, he/she will be able to
move his/her opponent to this side before he/she changes direc-
tion to the other side.

Convincing faking makes the defensive player pay attention and react in
a way that will favour the purpose of the fakers next action.

* For example: a player who wants to take advantage of a team-

mates screen may fake moving to the opposite side of the screen
to provoke his/her defenders reaction to that side; then, he/she
will move to the screen with a better chance of achieving his/her

Faking is a very important means of distracting the attention of the

defender and to make him/her react contrary to the true intention of the
The proper use of body balance and gestures, as well as change of speed,
are crucial elements of convincing effective faking.

Thus, in the first phase it is important that the faker use resources such
as the inflection of his/her legs, bodily weight more stressed on one
leg, upper body inclination, gestures with the head, the arms and the
hands, and even facial expressions, to convince his/her defender of
something that in fact is the opposite of what he/she actually wants to
In the second phase, once the defender has reacted to the fake, change
of speed will be important, so the player performs the subsequent
action quicker and explosively.

The importance of footwork is obvious. If players cross their feet or do not
pivot properly, they will not be able to move quickly and effectively. Although
this aspect should be well developed at this age, it is advisable that coaches
be alert, helping players who fail due to footwork basic deficiencies.
Footwork also includes using shorter or longer steps (and combining
both) to beat the defender.

* For example: a player may use short steps while moving to the
paint and then use a longer step at the same time he/she pivots,
changes direction and increases speed to get the pass from a team-
mate (Diagram-6).

Diag. 6


As it is shown in this example,

footwork is essential for changing
direction, one of the most important
moves without the ball.

The speed of the players moves without the ball is a crucial aspect.
Sometimes, these moves require maximum speed whereas at other times they
need a slower pace. In many cases, they will benefit from a change of speed,
such as the above faking example.
Maximum speed is compulsory when the players run the Fast-Break
until they reach the other side; then they need to adjust their speed to get the
adequate timing with the teammate handling the ball. Set offenses also
require maximum speed for specific moves, although always using the prop-
er timing.
Proper change of speed is one of the main resources of many great players.
However, many lite players do not master this valuable fundamental
because their coaches did not emphasise it enough when they were young-
To develop change of speed it is not enough that the coach occasionally
tell his/her players change speed, you have to change speed, etc.
Furthermore, players must work on this aspect specifically.
With this aim in mind, coaches should organise drills which allow their
players to compare their own sensations when performing at different degrees of
speed. This will increase the players awareness regarding their own speed,
being the first step in controlling this aspect.

* For instance: using the same move described above in

Diagram-6, the players must approach the paint and react to
getting the pass using different speeds. To facilitate this task,
three speeds may be established: high, medium and low. Utilising
these labels, the coach indicates the speed required each time,
both for approaching the paint and for reacting to getting the
For example: low-high would mean low speed to approach
the paint and high speed to react. At the beginning it is advisable
to keep the speed of one of the two moves constant (for example:
always the same speed when approaching the paint). Later, the
coach may use all possible combinations (low-low, low-medium,
low-high, medium-low, etc.).

Following this method, the players will learn to differentiate among lev-
els of speed, and thus controlling change of speed.

Some young players may need to improve their poor running technique.
If this be the case, this aspect should be included within the priorities of phys-
ical work.
Besides this, many young players need to be taught how to run when they
move in offense without the ball. Three common mistakes are: losing sight of
the ball, running sideways and running through wrong pathways.

The players must learn to run while turning their necks to see the ball.
They should also learn when it is Diag. 7
appropriate and inappropriate to
run sideways. For example, it
may be appropriate when the
player enters into the paint cut-
ting to the ball to get the pass. In
this case, by running sideways
he/she will prevent the defensive FRONTAL
player (behind him/her) from SIDEWAYS
intercepting the pass (see RUNNING

Likewise, they must learn to run using the right pathways. For exam-
ple, it would be inappropriate to run the Fast-Break without respecting
the lanes, or to cut to the basket surrounding the screener too much
(thus giving room to the defender to pass through) (see Diagrams 8 and

Diag. 8 Diag. 9


Changing Direction
When facing a good defense, the players have to change direction often. It
is a difficult fundamental requiring powerful legs, a high degree of coordi-
nation, good body balance and proper footwork.
There are two techniques to changing direction: frontal and backward.

The frontal change of direction can be made with or without pivoting. In the
first case, the technique includes the following aspects:

the foot furthest away from the new direction is the one to be used for
the last step in the current direction and the first step in the new one;
this will be made by pivoting with the other foot (the one nearest the
new direction);
the last step in the current direction may be shorter; the knee should be
bent, stressing the body weight on that leg and pushing the floor hard;
faking by using upper body inclination to that side and head gestures
may be also very useful to emphasise this move;
the first step in the new direction requires rapid pivoting, shifting the body
weight to the other leg, using a longer step (although not so long as to
slow down the motion) and changing speed (from lower to higher speed).

In the second case (without pivoting), the last step in the current direction
should be performed with the foot furthest away from the new direction, but
the first step in the new direction should be performed with the other foot
(the one nearest to the new direction).

In this case, when the player stresses his/her body weight on the leg
making the last step before changing, he/she has the other leg free to
move to the other side with a longer powerful step. Shifting body
weight and changing speed are also part of the move.

The technique to performing the backward change of direction is similar.

In this case, the last step in the current direction should be performed
with the foot nearest to the new direction; then the player pivots back-
wards with this foot and changes direction; again, shifting body weight
and changing speed are important.
A common mistake is to turn the body in the new direction while per-
forming the last step. The player must use the last step to emphasise that
direction, so that the defender will react to that move and be beaten
when the player changes the direction. Otherwise, the defender will be
able to control the change of direction and this will be inefficient.

Other common mistakes during the process of learning to change direc-

tion are the following:

running preceding the change may be inadequate because instead of

running normally, the player tends to shorten the final steps. The play-
er should run normally and only shorten the last step;
players may lose balance because they keep their centre of gravity too

high; instead they should keep the centre of gravity lower by bending
their knees;
the move is made as a curve and not as an angle; instead, the players
should describe an angle, shifting body weight and taking an explosive
first step to the new direction.

After moving, stopping is a key aspect to screening teammates and, obvi-
ously, to receive the ball in a good position to shoot, pass or penetrate.
To stop, players may use either a one-count stop or a two-count stop. In the
first case, both feet touch the floor at the same time, whereas in the second case
one foot will touch the floor first and then the other. In both cases, the most
important thing is to keep the body balanced with an appropriate body stance.
Players of 15-18 years of age should master stopping. However it is com-
mon to observe relevant deficiencies.
The most important deficiency is lack of balance; basically this occurs
because the players do not flex their legs (or leg) sufficiently when they stop,
they do not stress their body weight properly, or they do not spread their legs
to get the basic basketball stance.

If the players use a one-count stop, the body weight should be equally
distributed between the two legs, whereas if they utilise a two-count
stop it should be initially stressed on the leg used to stop until the other
leg touches the floor. In both cases, the stop must be done with the
knees (or knee) well bent.
Likewise, the distance between the two legs should be a bit wider than
shoulder width, with both feet parallel, keeping the basic basketball
stance. Players should avoid placing their legs either too close togeth-
er or too far apart.

Moving and Receiving

Good stopping is essential to receiving the ball in good conditions to
shoot, pass or penetrate dribbling.

When using a one-count stop, players should stop with both feet at the
same time, just as they receive the ball.
When utilising a two-count stop, they should place the first foot on the
floor just when they receive the ball, then place the other foot. As a gen-
eral rule, when using a two-count stop, it is advisable that the players
first step be with the foot which is nearest to the ball, especially when the

player needs to turn to face the basket.

Either with a one-count stop or a two-count stop, the player should face the
basket when he/she stops, unless he/she is playing backwards at the paint.
Therefore, in general terms, a one-count stop may be more advisable than
the two-count stop only if the player is able to stop facing the basket. Otherwise,
to stop facing the ball and then pivot to face the basket would be too slow.
Thus, when the player needs to turn to the basket, the two-count stop is
preferable. In this case, the player receives the ball while he/she performing
the first step with the foot nearer the ball, bending that knee to gain balance
and be able to pivot to face the basket; thus the second step will be placed at
the end of the turn and the player will be already facing the basket with the
ball ready to shoot, pass or penetrate.
Another important aspect is timing. Players should understand that good
timing is more important than maximum speed. Correct timing gives the
teammate with the ball the possibility to pass at the right time and at the
right place. Many young players need to work specifically on this important
At this age, coaches should assess the ability and the technique of their
players to receive the ball when stopping. Probably, they have developed the
habit of stopping in a specific way (for example, one-count stop, or two-count
stop always placing the same foot for the first step) and they strongly rely on
this automatic move, which is difficult to change. However, unless the coach
considers that this habit is efficient and does not limit the players progress,
it is important to take into account that these players are still young, so they
may and should learn to increase their resources as basketball players.

* For example: a 16 year-old player always uses a two-count

stop placing his left foot on the floor as the first step. He is very effi-
cient when he gets the pass from his left side, but he is not so effi-
cient when he receives the ball from his right side. At this age, he
manages to solve this deficiency and his present performance may
be considered positive. However, what will happen a few years
later when eventually he has to play against better defenders? Will
he be able to shoot when he receives the ball from his right side?
Most likely he will not, because he will lack the proper technique
to stop, receive and shoot quickly.

Coaches of 15-18 year-olds should think carefully about the long-term con-
sequences of their decisions about either maintaining or trying to change their
players technique. Many times they only consider short-term performance,
without attempting to change habits that today may be efficient but which
will limit the future possibilities of the players.

Stopping properly, keeping the
basketball basic stance, with good bal-
ance, protecting the chest with the
arms, and not moving are the keys to
set a good screen.
Basically, there are two ways to set
a screen:

moving to the position of the

defender and setting the screen
there (Diagram-10);
standing in a specific spot on the
court and leaving the teammate
to be screened to move his/her
defender to the screen (Dia-

Diag. 10 Diag. 11

In both cases, the most common mistakes of 15-18 year-olds are the fol-
setting the screen in the wrong spot. The players must understand where
the proper spot for the screen is in order to set it exactly there. If they
move to the position of the defender to set a side screen (remember
Diagram-10), they should stand so that the shoulder of the defender is
in line with the middle of their chest, leaving the defenders leg in
between the two legs of the screener;
setting a deficient body stance with bad balance: incorret positioning of legs
(usually too close) and centre of gravity too high (knees not bent
enough). It is important to correct these fundamentals in order to per-
form good screens;
pushing the defender (sometimes due to deficient balance), instead of let-
ting him/her to make physical contact. Young players must understand

that the role of the screener is only to establish a powerful position that
serves to block the defenders move, being the defender (and not the
screener) the one who makes physical contact when he/she can not
move through the screen;
moving to make contact; in a similar way, some young players change
their first screening stance to make contact with the defender when
he/she is overcoming the screen successfully. Thus, they move their
feet, their waist, their shoulder or their arms to stop the defenders
move, leading, in many cases, to a personal foul.
avoiding contact; some young players screen with their eyes closed
and narrow their body width or move slightly away to avoid contact
with the defender. Obviously these deficiencies should be corrected by
the coach.

Execution vs. Decision Making

As we have emphasised in previous sections, it is important that coaches
working with 15-18 year-olds assess their technical level in all fundamentals
related to moving without the ball to correct deficiencies. However, many
times the issue of a faulty performance of these fundamentals is not the qual-
ity of the execution, but the lack of decision concerning performance.
Thus, the problem of a player who does not set screens may not be lack
of mastery of the screening technique, but a lack of decision to set screens.
This problem is common in all basketball actions that usually have less social
recognition (screening, blocking out, helping, running back, etc.).
Therefore, as well as considering assessment and correction of technique
(execution), coaches should consider improve the decisions of their players
related to the appropriate performance of all offensive moves without the ball.
With this aim, coaches may use strategies such as the ones discussed in

* For example: the players of a female 15-16 year-old team have

practised the technique of changing speed (execution) and they
master it quite well. Now the coach wants to improve the decision
of changing speed. He explains to his players the precise situations
in which they should change speed, and then he organises a 3 on 3
drill to practise this decision.
The 3 on 3 game, on one basket, with twenty seconds of posse-
ssion time, will last for ten minutes. The goal of the drill is to change
speed in the situations explained. Every time a player changes
speed in those situations, her team gets a point. At the end of the
ten minutes, the team with most points will be the winner and the
prize will be three minutes rest while the other team does a series
of moves changing speed.

By using drills of this kind coaches may influence their players decisions,
developing the habit of making the proper decisions. This is especially rele-
vant regarding offensive moves without the ball.
Nevertheless, coaches should always differentiate between decision and
execution, remaining alert to the latter even if the young players have reached
a reasonable level of mastery. Thus, it may be possible that, for example, some
players (or just one player) show a technical recession when they perform
change of speed. In this case, the coach should organise the appropriate drills
to help these players improve their execution of changing speed (such as the
drill explained above in the section dedicated to changing speed), instead of
assuming that they will improve this aspect through drills aimed at improv-
ing decision making.

Practical Exercises
Considering all the aspects mentioned above, check the
execution of 15-18 year-old players when they move with-
out the ball.
During a basketball game, choose two 15-18 year-old
players to observe and record how many times they
change speed to get the ball when playing set offenses.

Offensive Rebound
From their earliest experience in
basketball, players hear how important
it is to go in to rebound in defense and
offense, being encouraged by their
coaches to perform this task. However,
many players, even tall players, do not
develop their rebounding ability due to
a lack of specific work on this aspect.
At this age, coaches should work on
this with their young players.

Going to Rebound
Offensive rebounding, in the first
place, requires the players to be there;
that is, to be in a position where they
can actually fight to get the ball. Many

young players just do not move to be there and so they lose their chances to
Thus, the first thing for those players is to work on the decision of going
for the rebound, setting the goal of being in the correct position and reward-
ing them if they are, regardless of whether they get the ball or not.

* For example: Boris is a tall 16 year-old boy who plays centre.

Although he stands around the paint when his teammates shoot,
most of the time Boris does not go for the rebound. His coach has
decided to establish a special training programme to overcome this
problem. Every time a game drill is organised in training (3 on 3, 4
on 4, or 5 on 5), Boris has the individual goal of going for the
rebound. Each time he does, regardless of whether he gets the ball
or not, a positive point is recorded.
For every drill he has to reach a number of positive points
previously established. If he achieves this, he can rest with the rest
of the team in between drills; on the contrary, if he does not, he has
to spend some extra time practising going for the rebound on his
own. This way, Boris attention is more focused on going to
rebound and thus, this behaviour will become a habit.

Secondly, it is important to teach the players to anticipate. In fact, many
young players go to rebound but they arrive late because they do not antici-
pate the shots of their teammates. Thus, it is important that young players
learn to anticipate their teammates shots, so that they move for the rebound
just before the shot is made.
To develop this skill, the coach should consider offensive rebounding as
a part of many drills in training, so the players may learn when they should
go for the rebound.

* For example: the coach organises a 4 on 4 drill to practise scree-

ning. Usually, he will be concerned with screening and shooting
from screening, and as soon as a player shoots the action will end
and a new one will begin and so on. However, if he also stresses
offensive rebounding and allows the play to continue until the
basket is made or the defense controls the ball, there will be oppor-
tunities for the players to learn while their teammates shoot.

Thus, coaches should provide opportunities for the players to learn this
important aspect. Furthermore, it is crucial that they teach the players the cues
to consider; that is, the signals that indicate to the players: go now!.

When these signals are clear, coaches may set the goal of going for the
rebound exactly when the signals appear, neither sooner nor later, recording the
players behaviour both in training and games.

* For instance: continuing with the example of Boris, the next

step for this player would be to reward him with one positive point
only if he goes for the rebound exactly when the approprite signals
appear; this is, when he anticipates the shot and goes for the
rebound just before the shot is made.

Likewise, it is important that coaches include offensive rebounding with-

in their offensive moves, instead of considering them only as an appendix.
This means that the offensive moves should not end with the shot, consider-
ing offensive rebounding as an independent aspect, but with the rebounding
positioning of the players who have been assigned this task.
Thus, the coach may prepare a strategy for the rebound just as he/she
does for the rest of the play, explaining to his/her players what their positions
are to go in for the rebound and the pathways that they may use to reach
those spots from every possible shot of the offense. This way, the players will
consider rebounding as part of the offense and they will learn the right sig-
nals to anticipate in every possible shot; further, they will have a guideline
concerning the correct rebounding spots.

* For example: in Diagram-12 the coach has drawn one of the

plays to get a shot, ignoring (as usually happens) the offensive
rebound. However, in Diagram-13 the same play has been drawn
but now includes the moves of the players to go for the rebound.
The latter favours a better rebounding attitude, helps the players to
learn the signals to anticipate, and allows organisation of rebounding
positions for each player of the team.

When moving in for the rebound, players may fake to one side and move
to the other side to beat the nearest defender and have a better pathway to
the rebounding position.
Diag. 12 Diag. 13

Getting the Spot

The next stage is getting the correct position for rebounds. Although very
important, it is not enough to go for the rebound anticipating shots; further,
it is crucial that players move to the right spots and reach those spots ahead of
the defenders.
In Diagram-13 we have shown that a little team strategy may be organ-
ised to assign possible spots among the two or three rebounders of the team.
This will help the players to choose the right spots to get rebounds.
Nevertheless, the players should learn three rules:

they should not be just underneath the basket;

a missed shot made from one side goes most often to the
opposite side;
long distance shots rebound longer than short distance shots.

Players should be especially alert when their defensive player goes to

help; this is a very good occasion to anticipate and get the spot to
They should learn to see the free spots that they can reach, considering
the positioning of the defenders. So, as soon as they start moving they must
look for those spots instead of looking at the balls pathway.
When the player anticipates and
reaches the proper position, he/she is
in a good situation to get the ball; how-
ever he/she still has to fight against
the defenders. Now the task of the
offensive player is to reach the spot by
preventing the defenders from getting
With this aim in mind, he/she
should use his/her body to contact
powerfully with the defender in order
to reach the spot. This needs good
body balance achieved by bendind
both knees, and a proper use of the
back, shoulders and elbows.
Summing up, the rebounder has
to move to the basket anticipating
his/her teammates shots; then, instead
of looking at the ball, he/she should
look for the free spot and also for the
nearest defender to make sure he/she

gets the spot; then, he/she will be ready to look for the ball, jump and
catch it.

A common mistake for players going in for the rebound is to

turn their heads up to look at the shot, instead of using this time
to look for a spot and get it to rebound. Coaches should work to
overcome this problem.

Many young players just go for the rebound without considering any of
these aspects. Obviously they get some rebounds because there are many
chances throughout the game; however, would they get more rebounds if
they developed these aspects? Undoubtedly many of them would improve
their rebounding ability.

Jumping, Catching the Ball and Shooting

These aspects are the ones that coaches work on more often through dif-
ferent drills. The following points are important:
the player should be in a balanced position before jumping, then jump as
high as possible with his/her arms up to hold the ball or tip it;
timing is crucial; players must
learn to jump at the proper
moment to catch the ball as high
as possible;
players should learn to jump
and move their arms to catch
the ball without fouling the
when players come down to the
floor they must bend their knees
for a balanced stance, protecting the
ball with their body which should
be between the ball and the
finally, the rebounder should
jump and shoot; sometimes
he/she may use faking before
shooting; in any case, he/she
should turn his/her head to see
the basket before shooting. Many
players miss these shots because

they only look at the basket at the last moment, just as they are throw-
ing the ball;
players should practise these shots surrounded by defenders as they
would be in a game.

Rebounding Own Shots

Young players, especially tall players, should also learn to rebound their
own shots. In fact, many players who shoot do not go for the rebound, or go
late, or go to the wrong spot.
In this case, the player shooting cannot move to rebound as quickly as
with his/her teammates shots, since his/her first priority is to make a good
shot. However he/she should move as soon as he/she touches the floor.
In this case, probably he/she will not be able to fight for the correct spot,
but he/she will have a better perspective of the ball. So, as soon as the play-
er touches the floor, without losing sight of the ball, he/she should move to
the spot where he/she guesses that the ball will go. As in other cases, play-
ers must learn this habit through the appropriate practice.

Some Drills
The following are some simple
drills to practise offensive rebounding.

One player under the basket.

He/she throws the ball to the
backboard and jumps to catch it,
then jumps to score. Five times
non-stop, switching sides.
Same drill: now player tips the
A line of three or four players.
The first of them throws the ball
to the backboard, and runs to
the end of the line; then, the sec-
ond player tips the ball to the
backboard, then the third and so
on. Every player goes to the end
of the line after tipping the ball.
After a number of tips the ball
has to be scored.

Player out of the paint. Coach throws ball. Player goes to rebound and
scores. Then, he/she goes back out of the paint and coach throws a sec-
ond ball, and so on with a third, a fourth and a fifth ball in a row.
Two players fight for the offensive rebound. Both out of the paint.
Coach throws ball. First task is to reach the spot, then catch the ball and
Same drill with three players Diag. 14

Same drill with three pairs: one pair plays for the rebound while the
other two rest a few seconds until their turn.
1 on 1: coach throws ball; offensive Diag. 15
player tries to get offensive re-
bound; defensive player blocks
out. From different positions (Dia-
grams-15, 16 and 17).

Same drill; now 2 on 2 or 3 on 3

(Diagrams-18 and 19).

Diag. 16 Diag. 17

Diag. 18 Diag. 19

Same drill: 2 on 2 or 3 on 3; now Diag. 20

2/3 outside players move ball
until they shoot (Diagram-20);
then rebound.

Outside players play 1 on 1 or 2 Diag. 21

on 2. Inside players only rebound.
Inside defenders should move to
help. Offensive rebounders should
take advantage when their defen-
ders go to help (Diagram-21).

3 on 3, 4 on 4 or 5 on 5: game situation; emphasis on rebound.

Practical Exercise
Considering the information above, assess how 15-18 year-
old players perform in all aspects of offensive rebound.
You may use a tool such as that shown in Table-25.

Low Post Moves

At this age, players should learn to play backwards from the low post (the
same from the midpost). And this is a task for all players except very short ones.
It is obvious that tall players need to develop fundamentals to play back-
wards, but forwards and big guards may take advantage too. In fact, one of
the most valuable team strategies consists of placing at the mid/low post (just
low post from now) the player who can take advantage of a height mismatch
with his/her defender. This player may be either a centre, a forward or a
guard, provided that he/she be able to play backwards as a low post.

Before Receiving the Ball

The first task of a low post player is to be able to receive the ball in that
position. This is not easy because the defense will be very alert to stopping
the pass.








Table 25. Example of tool to assess individual skill in offensive rebounding.


The player must have a passing lane to get the pass. This means he/she
must be between the ball and his/her defender. To reach that position,
he/she may use all kinds of moves.

* For example: moving away from the ball (to move the defen-
der with him/her) and then change direction and speed to come
back and reach the passing lane.

Faking, changing direction and changing speed in a limited space are

very important aspects, as well as timing, stopping and a balanced body

Sometimes, the passing lane is not free, but might be as soon as the ball
changes to a different teammate. This concept is very important for
low post players. If they can not get the pass from one position, instead
of fighting for that pass, they may fight for the next pass anticipating
that situation; thus, they can take advantage of the defender stopping
the present pass to reach the position for the next pass; so as soon as
the ball goes to the next teammate, he/she will be ready to receive the

* For example: in Diagram-22 player-1 has the ball. The passing

lane to player-4 (the low post) is not free because the defender is
there. Player-4 may work for the next pass taking advantage of his
defenders position. He may block him with his shoulder and his
arm, when the ball is still in that position; then, when player-1 passes
to player-3, he will have a free passing lane from player-3.

Thus, when low posts are not free, Diag. 22

they should not follow the movement
of the ball by playing behind it; on the
contrary, they should anticipate where
the ball will go to work on getting the
next pass.
Then, when they finally have a
passing lane free, it is important
to hold up the defender until
they get the ball.

A common mistake for young players is to hold up the defender

only until they see their teammate passing the ball; then they
move their body to catch the ball, leaving the defender free, and
the defender takes advantage of this move by intercepting the
ball in its pathway.
Instead, players should keep a good stance, with their knees well
bent, holding up the defender with the shoulder and the arm,
using the opposite hand as a target to receive the pass. They
should be able to stop the ball with this hand while still holding
up the defender, and only then catch the ball with the other hand
and use the free pathway to the basket.

When the defender is behind the post, the passing lane will be free, but
the defender might be able to anticipate and intercept the pass, so the
post must make sure he/she has the defender under control.

In this case, the post should make contact with the defender using his/her lower
back, with a good balanced stance (making him/her as big as possible but with-
out losing balance), knees well bent, upper-body slightly flexed forward, and
arms and hands well extended forward asking for the pass. Making good use
of his/her body, the low post must create as much room as possible between the
defender and the position where he/she will grasp the ball.
Thus, the player must hold the ball with his/her arms extended, not near
his/her chest as many young players do incorrectly. Then he/she should
open his/her elbows and bring the ball back to the chest well protected.
Sometimes it will be useful to step towards the ball as it comes to the player,
so it will be more difficult for the defender to intercept the pass. However,
this does not mean that the low post should receive the ball out of the prop-
er position. He/she must get the ball where he/she can be dangerous.

Playing With the Ball

Once the low post has the ball, there are two options: if he/she have a free
pathway to the basket, he/she should move quickly to shoot. If not, he/she
should turn his/her head and take a quick look.

Two common mistakes of young players are: dribbling the

ball as soon as they receive it; and moving their heads down, losing
perspective of what is going on.

By taking a second to have a look, the post can observe the position of his/her
defender as well as the moves of the other defenders and the positions of

his/her teammates. Thus, he/she can see the

weaker side of his/her defender, if the other
defenders help, and if there are teammates open
to get a good pass. This broad perspective of the
picture is crucial to the low posts game.

Passing is a very important skill for a low

post. Therefore, from a general passing
ability that all players should develop, at
this point it is important to build a specific
passing ability from the low posts position.
This will include short one-hand passes to
players cutting to the basket, one-hand
quick passes to teammates at the perimeter,
and even jump-passes to overcome help.
Players should learn to pass in a jungle
of arms and hands trying to intercept the
ball, so they must find the proper pathway
in order to pass and perform a quick good
pass which will allow a teammate to shoot.

Therefore, coaches should spend training time developing this specific

passing ability through appropriate drills.

* For example: a 3 on 3 set: two perimeter players and one at the

low post. The latter gets the ball and the two defenders of the peri-
meter go to help. The post must pass the ball back in good condition
for a shot. Sometimes one of the perimeter players may cut to the
basket whereas the other stays outside; then the post will have the
option of passing to the cutter or passing to the perimeter shooter.

Post players must learn to make the decision of either passing to a

teammate or playing to score. This will depend on the actions of the
defenders. If they help, the best option will be to pass to the teammate
who is free. If they do not help, the low post should play against
his/her defender to score.

Specific Moves
As an example, the following are some specific moves for the low post to
play against his/her defender.

fake to one side (for example the right side) turning the waist, shoul-
der and head slightly but quickly; then slide the opposite leg (left leg)
to the basket while turning to the left, shifting body weight to that leg;

at the same time, bounce the ball

with a short quick dribble
between legs; then, turn to the
hoop while catching the ball and
stepping with the other foot
(right foot); jump with knees
bent (they must be bent all the
time), and then shoot.
same fake; now after sliding the
opposite leg (left) and bouncing
the ball between legs, do not
turn to the hoop; instead, stay
backwards, slide slightly the
other leg (right) and catch the
ball while stepping with this
foot (right); then move the other
foot (left) rapidly, while turning
the head to see the hoop, and
jump on this foot for a short hook-
The ball should be protected
all the time. Do not extend the
arm out to perform the hook. Bring the ball straight up the shooting side
with both hands and make a full extension directly over the ear. Use the
other arm for protection from the defense.
same move; now after the last step, instead of jumping for the short
hookshot, fake this shot by moving head up slightly and then turn back,
pivoting around the back foot (right), then jump and shoot.

Obviously there are other possible moves but the ones mentioned above
give an idea of how the players can perform. In all moves, one important aspect
is to look at the hoop before shooting, so the player can see the target in advance and
so be more accurate. Many young players see the hoop right when they throw
the ball; this is a big mistake which explains many failed shots.

Many drills can be organised to practise low post moves. Some of them
should be limited to practising separately each of the three aspects mentioned
above: moves before receiving the ball, passing, and playing with the ball to
score. Others should combine just two of these aspects: receiving and pass-
ing, receiving and playing to score; passing or playing to score. And others
should include all three: receiving and either passing or playing to score. The
following are some examples.

Goal: practise specific moves to score. The players start with the ball at the
low post and practise different moves. The coach explains, demonstrates
and stops to correct. No defense. Diag. 23
Later, same drill including a
Goal: catch the ball and play to
score. Same drill but now a team-
mate passes from the perimeter.
No defense. Later, same drill
including a defender (Diagram-
Goal: improve catching technique. One low post. Two teammates at the
perimeter, each with one ball. The low post practises catching the ball;
he/she gets the ball and passes it back, then he/she gets the other ball and
so on. The coach demonstrates and stops to correct. No defender. Later,
same drill including a defender.
Goal: working to get a free pa- Diag. 24
ssing lane. One low post and one
defender. Two perimeter players.
The low post tries to get a free
passing lane; the defender tries to
stop the pass. The perimeter pla-
yers try to pass the ball inside
through a free passing lane (Dia-
Goal: deciding between passing and playing to score. 2 on 2 or 3 on 3.
The low post receives the ball (the defenders can not intercept this pass)
and then he/she has to decide between passing or playing to score
depending on the presence or absence of help from outside defenders
(Diagrams 25 and 26).
Diag. 25 Diag. 26

Goal: playing under normal game conditions. 2 on 2 or 3 on 3. Perimeter

players try to pass to the low post, who must fight for a free lane, try to
receive the ball and decide between passing and playing to score; then
use proper passes or moves.


One of the most important aspects of training 15-18 year-olds is the devel-
opment of tactical decision-making. That is, learning to decide according to
tactical knowledge.
Many coaches do not train this aspect specifically, assuming that players
will learn just from working on moves included within the set offenses.
However, a relevant problem of many young players (and later of profes-
sional players too) is that they do not know why they decide one way or the
other. Coaches should consider this problem and work with their young play-
ers to improve their tactical decision-making.
Young players develop simple tactical decision-making if they have the
proper training during mini-basketball years and at 13-14. At those stages
they face 1 on 1, 2 on 2 and 3 on 3 situations, as well as 5 on 5 regular games,
which require multiple decisions. For example, a 13-14 year-old player who
plays 2 on 2 must decide between passing to his teammate or shooting him-
self, driving to the hoop or waiting for a screen, etc.

By trial and error with some guidelines from the coach, mini-basketball
players may discover some of the stimuli that are relevant to making decisions
while playing. Later, with the 13-14 year-olds, the coach may be more direct,
teaching some important concepts. Now, with the 15-18 year-olds, the coach
should design a training programme focused on developing decision-making.
As in other aspects, the programme should begin by assessing the level of the
players concerning decision-making, in order to detect their resources (strong
points to be strengthened) and their needs (deficiencies to be improved).

Criteria for Making Tactical Decisions

In order to make the right decision, the players must understand the key
criteria for making those decisions. For example, in a 2 on 1 situation the play-
er with the ball has to decide between passing to his/her teammate or con-
tinue dribbling to the hoop for a lay-up. What is the criterion (or the criteria)
for making this decision?
In this case, it would be mainly related to the action of the defender; for
instance, if the defender moves to stop him/her from dribbling, the best deci-
sion would be to pass to his/her teammate, but if the defender stayes in the
middle leaving enough room to reach the hoop, the most appropriate deci-
sion would be to keep dribbling for the lay-up. Understanding this criteria
would help the player to make the right decision.
Throughout their previous basketball experience, many 15-18 year-old
players have automated basketball habits, relying mainly on the aspects of
the game that they master best. Thus, if we observe players playing 1 on 1, it
is very likely that they use the same moves repeatedly, regardless of the con-
venience of those moves; and the same would happen in 2 on 2, 3 on 3, 4 on
4 and 5 on 5. Most of the players would use their stronger resources regard-
less of whether these be most appropriate to the present circumstances. For
example, a player who is a good perimeter shooter would tend to shoot even
if a teammate is in a better position under the basket.
Therefore, the process of learning tactical decision-making at this age
begins with the coach deciding, and then explaining to the players, the key
criteria that the players should take into consideration in order to make the
right decisions.

These criteria should be clear, and the key the coach uses to judge and cor-
rect the players decisions. As has been discussed in previous chapters, coach-
es often lack clear criteria; so they judge and correct players based on the
result of their decisions.

* Thus, for example, if a player decides to pass and the pass is

successful, the coach would tend to judge the decision as correct,
whereas if the pass is intercepted, the coach would judge it as an
incorrect decision.

In this case, the only criterion is the result of the action, but this is a wrong
criterion to strengthen the process of learning to make decisions. Why? It is
likely that the player who got bad results (for example, losing the ball when
passing) will stop making those decision. In fact, this is the reason why many
players limit themselves so soon; they do not attempt to make decisions that
may lead to bad results.
Therefore, the criteria to decide if a decision is correct or incorrect should
be present before the decision is taken. These criteria should be related to
the basketball conditions that are present when the player makes the deci-
The criteria for the decision must include clear key signal stimuli which
must be recognised by the players while they play. For example, the move of
a defender in one direction or another, may be the key signal stimulus to mak-
ing either one decision or other.
Thus, while playing, the players must learn to focus their attention on the
key signal stimuli to produce the correct decisions.

Practical Exercises
Think and write down some criteria with which to judge
players correct decisions in the following situations: 1 on
1; 2 on 2; 2 on 1; 3 on 2; and 3 on 3.
Then decide the key signal stimuli on which the players
must focus their attention while playing.

Some Examples
Once the criteria are clear, the coach must organise the appropriate drills
to develop correct decisions. Basically, these drills should include all the con-
ditions that make up part of the criteria, with many opportunities for the play-

ers to make the decisions.

As an example, we will consider some tactical offensive decisions within
a 3 on 3 framework. The difficulty of the drills should increase progressive-
ly, from drills with simple demands and simple functioning, to more complex
drills as the players master the previous concepts.

Passing to the Low Post


The first decision of this example is the decision of the perimeter play-
ers to pass to the low post.


The pass should be performed from below the extended free throw line
(Diagrams 27 and 28).
The defender of the low post must be either behind him/her (Diagram-
27) or playing a three-quarter fronting defense on the opposite side of
the passer (Diagram-28).

This means that, according to these criteria, the correct decision

would be to pass the ball to the low post when the passer is below
the extended free throw line (as is player-3 in Diagrams 27 and 28)
and the low posts defender is either behind him (Diagram-27) or
playing three-quarter fronting defense on the opposite side of the
passer (Diagram-28).
Therefore, at this point of the learning process, passing the ball to
the low post under different conditions (for example: above the
extended free throw line, or with the low posts defender playing
defense in front) would be an incorrect decision.

Diag. 27 Diag. 28


3 on 3 competitive drill on one basket; ten minutes; the team which

scores keeps playing offense; the winners rest for two minutes; the
losers run sprints.
Rules: they can only score if the low post receives the ball because of a
correct decision (passing from below the extended free throw line, etc.);
all players can score by shooting and rebounding, but only after the cor-
rect decision of passing to the low post is made. When a team scores
without passing to the low post, the score does not count and the ball
goes to the other team.
To increase the opportunities of making the correct decision, two rules
are established at this stage: the defender of the low post must play only
behind him/her (later behind and three-quarter fronting); and the
defenders of the perimeter players can not intercept the pass inside.


This drill forces the players to make the correct decision, linking the cri-
teria established by the coach to the decision. It is important to begin
with a restricted drill such as this, so the players get used to making the
correct decision.
The coach does not need to constantly tell the players: pass the ball to
the low post, pass the ball to the low post, dont pass from above
the extended free throw line, etc. The rules of the drill will favour that
the players centre their attention on all relevant issues (the decision and
the correct criteria).

Low Posts Decisions


The next step would be to develop the low posts decisions when
receiving the ball. He/she may learn to decide between playing 1 on 1
against his/her defender to score, or passing the ball to his/her perime-
ter teammates (remember the section dedicated above to low post


The low post has received the ball. His/her defender is behind him/her.
The key signal stimuli will be the actions of the perimeter defenders:
if they help, the correct decision would be to pass to the teammate
who gets open (Diagram-29);

Diag. 29

if they do not help, the correct decision would be to play 1 on 1 to

score (remember Diagram-26 in page 294).


Same 3 on 3 competitive drill on one basket; ten minutes; the team

which scores keeps playing offense; the winners rest for two minutes;
the losers run sprints.
Rules: they can only score if the low post receives the ball from below
the extended free throw line, etc.
Furthermore, every time the low post makes the correct decision (pass-
ing or playing to score depending on the criteria established), his/her
team will get one extra point added to their score (maximum two points
every play). On the contrary, every time the low post makes the wrong

decision (according to the critera established) his/her team will lose

one point.
To increase the opportunities for making decisions, two rules are main-
tained from the previous drill: the defender of the low post must play
only behind him/her (later behind and three-quarter fronting); and the
defenders of the perimeter players can not intercept the pass inside.
Likewise, if the coach observes that the defenders always react in the
same way (either helping or not helping) he/she might establish anoth-
er rule: the defenders will lose three/five points if at the end of the drill
the difference between the two options (helping or not helping) occurs
more than three times. Thus, the coach will write down what the
defenders have done each time, letting them know the overall situation
every three minutes.

This will keep the defenders attention focused on the behaviour (helping
or not helping) which is the criterion for the decision of the low post. Thus
the coach will control the presence of the two key signal stimuli (helping and
not helping) favouring the training of the low posts decision.


These drill rules provide many opportunities for the low post to make
the correct decision.
The drill is related to the pre-
vious one, so the perimeter
players work on the decision
of passing to the low post as

Perimeter Players Decisions


Using the same framework, the next step might be to develop the perime-
ter players decisions.
First, when the low post receives the ball and the perimeter players
defender moves to help, the decision of moving to a spot where he/she
can get a good pass back (Decision-1).
Second, when the perimeter player receives the ball back from the low
post, the decision of either shooting or driving inside for a lay-up or a
jump shot after one or two dribbles (or passing to the open teammate
if his/her defender rotates) (Decision-2).



The players own defender moves to help inside.

The key signal stimulus will be the defenders position. Depending on
this position, the perimeter player should move to a spot where there
is a free passing lane from the post (Diagram-30); this is the correct

Diag. 30


The ball comes back from the low post. The perimeter player catch-
es the ball with his/her feet well placed, facing the basket, position-
ing the ball ready to shoot.
The key signal stimuli will be the actions of his/her defender (who
went to help when the low post received the ball):

if the defender does not come back, the correct decision will be to
if the defender comes back, the correct decision will be to fake the
shot slightly and drive inside for a lay-up or a jump shot after one
or two dribbles (Diagram-31).

Diag. 31

Later, another key signal stimuli may be added: the actions of the
other perimeter player:
if he/she rotates to stop the shot, the correct decision will be to
pass the ball to the teammate who is open (Diagram-32).

Diag. 32


Same 3 on 3 competitive drill on one basket; ten minutes; the team

which scores keeps playing offense; the winners rest for two minutes;
the losers run sprints.
Rules: they can only score if the low post receive the ball from below the
extended free throw line, etc.
Furthermore, every time the perimeter players make the right decision
(either Decision-1 or Decision-2) their team will get one extra point
added to the score (maximum three points every play). On the contrary,

every time the perimeter players make the wrong decision (according
to the critera established) their team will lose one point.
To increase the opportunities for making decisions, two rules are main-
tained from the previous drill: the defender of the low post must play
only behind him/her (later behind and three-quarter fronting); and the
defenders of the perimeter players can not intercept the pass inside.
Moreover, the defenders of the perimeter players (at least one) have
to go to help when the low post receives the ball; if they do not, their
team will lose one point, and the offensive team will have the ball
Likewise, if the coach observes that the defenders always react in the
same way to the low posts pass (either coming back to stop the shot
or not coming back) he/she might establish another rule: the defend-
ers will lose three/five points if, at the end of the drill, the difference
between the two options (coming back or not) occurs more than three
times. Thus, the coach will write down what the defenders have done
each time, letting them know the overall situation every three min-

This will keep the defenders attention focused on the behaviour (coming
back or not) which is the criterion that the perimeter players should use for
Decision-2. Thus the coach will control the presence of the two key signal
stimuli (coming back and not coming back) favouring the proper training of
this decision.


In this drill, the low post only has one option open (passing to the
perimeter players), although he/she has to recognise the key signal
stimuli (which of the two defenders is coming to help?) to make the
decision of passing to either one teammate or the other. Therefore,
he/she gets used to discriminating between the stimuli and linking
them to the correct decision.
However, the emphasis of the drill is upon the decisions made by the
perimeter players, so the coachs attention and comments should be
focused on these decisions.
As in previous drills, the rules favour many opportunities for making
both Decision-1 and Decision-2.

Low Post and Perimeter Players Decisions

The next step might be to work on both the decisions of the low post
(either passing or playing to score) and the decisions of the perimeter
players (passing to the low post and both Decision-1 and Decision-2
when the post receives the ball).

Same as used in previous drills.

Same framework and same rules as used in previous drills.
The defenders of the perimeter players should combine both helping
and not helping. To assure this, the coach may maintain that they will
lose three/five points if, at the end of the drill, the difference between
the two options (helping or not helping) occurs more than three times.
Likewise, the defenders of the perimeter players should combine both
coming back to stop the shot and not coming back. To assure this, the
coach may maintain that they will lose three/five points if, at the end
of the drill, the difference between the two options (coming back or not)
occurs more than three times.

The coach must concentrate hard to control this drill, focussing on the
defenders actions (to write them down) and the offensive players deci-
sions (to reward or to punish them according to the rules of the drill).
The demands and the functioning of this drill are complex, so the pre-
vious drills, which are easier, should be mastered earlier.

Some Variations

The same drills (same decisions, same criteria, same rules) may be organ-
ised with some variations.

The perimeter players may use a Diag. 33

teammate or the coach to pass the
ball and switch positions (Dia-

Diag. 34
The guard (Player-1) may dribble
below the extended free throw
line and the forward (Player-3)
cut behind the post to replace the
guard (Diagram-34).

The forward (Player-3) may move Diag. 35

to screen the post (Player-5) to
switch positions with him/her

The players may be allowed to

pass the ball to the low post from
above the extended free throw
line if the ball comes from below
this line and the defender of the
low post plays either three-quar-
ter fronting defense at the base- Diag. 36
line side or full fronting defense.
Here, these positions of the low
posts defender would be the key
signal stimuli to pass the ball from
the wing (below the extended
free throw line) to the guard
(above this line) and then to the
post (Diagram-36).

Creating the Situation for Decision-Making

An important aspect to be developed with young players is that they

be able to create the situations in which the tactical decisions have to be
With this aim in mind, the coach may establish rules that favour the play-
ers creativity. This way, he/she can observe how the players perform in this
task. Later he/she may give the players more information in order to enhance
possible options; and he/she may establish the rule that the players must use
two, three or four different options throughout the drill. The following is an

Goal of the Drill:

The players must create the appropriate situation to make tactical deci-
sions playing with the low post.


3 on 3 competitive drill on one basket; ten minutes; the team which

scores keeps playing offense; the winners rest for two minutes; the
losers run sprints.
Rules: they can only score if the low post receives the ball from below
the extended free throw line, etc.
Instead of beginning the drill with the appropriate alignment, as in pre-
vious drills, they begin at the middle of the court; then they must move
and get organised in order to be able to carry out the rules. Diagrams
37, 38 and 39 represent some of the possible options that the players
may choose from.

Diag. 37 Diag. 38

Diag. 39

Later, the beginning of the drill may be more complex. For example, all
six players are placed in the middle of the court. During two-five sec-
onds, they run around (slowly) or do defensive footwork; then the
coach passes the ball to one of them and his/her team has to play
offense, with this player in charge of bringing the ball upwards. Then
the three players have to move to create the offensive situation follow-
ing the rules of the drill:

they need a low post;

they need someone below the extended free throw line to pass the
ball to the low post.

The players may use different options to create the situation required
by the rules of the drill (remember Diagrams 37, 38 and 39). The coach
may influence these options (making the drill easier or more difficult)
by establishing additional rules such as the following:

the players can not use the same option twice in a row; if they do
not respect this rule, they lose the ball;
they can not use the same player as the low post twice in a row; if
they do not respect this rule, they lose the ball;
they can not play at the same side two/three times in a row; again,
if they do not respect this rule, they lose the ball;
they must include specific aspects: for example, they have to set a
screen, the dribbler can not dribble below the extended free throw
line, etc.


Using this kind of drills, young players will increase their basketball
knowledge and their creativity to build up tactical situations in which tac-
tical decisions can be made.
This drill may be complemented with the rules of previous drills con-
cerning low post and perimeter players decisions. For example, spe-
cific rules may be added to work on the low posts decision between
passing or playing to score.

Practical Exercise
Using a basic structure of 2 on 2 or 3 on 3, design a series
of drills to improve offensive tactical decisions.


Building team play is an important aspect with 15-18 year-olds. However,

coaches should understand that this is a progressive process throughout these
years, rather than something that can be done just in few weeks.
Building team play should be closely linked to improving individual fun-
damentals and developing tactical decision-making, so that players learn to
interact using the appropriate individual resources.
Team play development should combine defense and offense. Both
aspects should be built up simultaneously, providing reciprocal benefits.
In general, team play at these ages should cover aspects included in the
following sections.

Team Defense Concepts

Basic Positioning
Considering the position of both the ball and the offensive players, basic
positioning is the first step of a team defense. Probably in previous years some
of these aspects were taught in 2 on 2 or 3 on 3 situations, but now players
have to understand the complete defensive picture.

Coaches should take a decision: What technique will be used to defend

players who are one pass away from the ball? Denying? (Diagram-40) or
Floating (also called sagging)? (Diagram-41).

Diag. 40 Diag. 41

Diag. 42
Will it depend on the side of the
defender?: denying if he/she is
on the strong or ball side, and
floating if he/she is on the help
side? (Diagram-42).

When the ball is below the extended free throw line, how will the play-
ers defend the pass back to the guard? Denying? (Diagram-43) or
Floating? (Diagram-44).

Diag. 43 Diag. 44

These are key decisions to be made by the coach, since he/she must
teach the players one system or the other without confusing them with
ambiguous or contradictory messages.

The next stage should be that the players learn all possible options, so
they can use the alternative most appropriate to each specific situation.
However, at this point they should learn just one way. Coaches have
different opinions about the way to begin. Many agree that is better to
start with the moves that demand more physical effort and risk (such
the ones in Diagrams-40 and 43).

However, it is advisable to choose a system that includes both

denying and floating (in different positions), so the players will work
on both fundamentals (for example, such as in Diagram- 42).

To develop basic positioning, 4 on 4 drills with all the offensive players

open are highly recommended.

Help is an essential aspect of team defense. Basically, the players should
learn to help in the following situations:

dribbling penetrations;
passes inside the paint;
post defense.

Help to Defend Dribbling Penetrations

Help and Recover

The players should learn and practise the fundamentals to help and recov-
er; this means to help his/her teammate stop the dribbling penetration of
his/her player, but without losing sight of his/her own player, so they can
recover to defend his/her own player as soon as the balls player catches it to
Help and recover drills should be practised both from denying and float-
ing, and also from different places on the court (according to the basic defen-
sive positioning):
from denying the pass, in different parts of the court (Diagrams-45, 46
and 47);
Diag. 45 Diag. 46

Diag. 47

from floating, also in different parts of the court (Diagrams- 48 and 49);
Diag. 48 Diag. 49

inside players, from floating at the help side (Diagram-50) and from
denying at the ball side (Diagram-51).
Diag. 50 Diag. 51

Helping the Helper

The players should also learn to help the helper. This means being alert to
help a teammate helping a dribbling penetration. This teammate may recov-
er a little bit behind the ball, so the task of the second helper is to stop his/her
teammates player until he/she recovers. This second help should also be per-
formed without losing sight of the own offensive player, since the helper has

to recover quickly to defend his/her Diag. 52

A 4 on 4 framework is very
appropriate for practising help to
the helper (Diagram-52). One of
the offensive players penetrates
dribbling and forces the nearest
defender to help and recover. The
balls player passes to the open
teammate and forces the next
defender to help the helper, and so on. Offensive players should move
away when their defenders go to help, making recovery difficult.


Players should learn to rotate, especially to stop dribbling penetrations to

the baseline (Diagram-53). When a player penetrates to the baseline, help
must come from the nearest defender at the other side. This player should try
to help stop the dribbler as far as possible from the hoop. He/she can not
think on recovery, but should focus just on helping and stopping the dribbler.
Rotation is needed to defend the helpers player in a very dangerous position
at the other side of the basket.
The defender who rotate (the nearest above) should be prepared to cut
the pass to the open offensive player near the basket and, very impor-
tant, to block out the rebound, since it is very possible that the dribbler
Defenders who rotate to take care of players near the basket, must be
prepared to block out the rebound to taller players than them.
Defenders above the extended free throw line, as soon as an opponent
player penetrates to the baseline,
Diag. 53
may move to the paint to protect
this area from offensive players
cutting or rebounding.
4 on 4 drills are very approprite
to practise rotation (Diagram-53).

Help to Defend Inside Passing Diag. 54

Help is also important to stop inside

passing, both to perimeter players
when they cut, and to post players. We
will refer to post players later.
A relevant offensive play which
needs defensive help is the back-
door (Diagram-54). The defender
at the baseline on the help side
must be alert and anticipate the intention of the player with the ball.
Then he/she will be able to react and either intercept the pass, force an
offensive foul (by standing in the proper place, since the receiver will
be just watching the ball) or defend the receiver tightly as soon as
he/she gets the ball, forcing him/her to either walk or shoot badly.
The teammate who is nearest on the help side, should rotate down to
take care of the offensive player Diag. 55
left by the back doors helper
Help may also come from de-
fenders who are floating one pass
away from the ball. For example,
in Diagram-55, the player defen-
ding the guard who is one pass
from the ball at the strong side
is floating. He/she should be
placed in a position that makes difficult the inside pass; he/she should
also anticipate whether the player with the ball intends to pass inside,
by watching both the players eyes and the ball.

Help to Defend Screens

Defensive help is crucial to defend screens too.

In the on-ball screens (screens to the player with the ball) it is important
to work with the two defenders directly involved in the screen (the
screened and the screeners defenders) to improve their fundamentals
to stop the screen. Nevertheless, it is also important to develop a team
defense through appropriate help from teammates.
Help may be directed at stopping the dribbler just after the screen
(Diagram-56), or to stopping the pass to the screener (Diagram-57). In
either case, helping to the helper or rotation may be needed from other

Diag. 56 Diag. 57

defenders, so all five defenders must be alert when the offensive team
sets an on-ball screen.
In the off-ball screens (to players without the ball) the screeners defend-
er may help his/her teammate either leaving him/her room to pass
through, denying the passing lane until he/she recovers, or stepping
Diag. 58 Diag. 59

into the pathway of the screened player (Diagrams 58 and 59).

Sometimes the helper will also need help from another teammate.

Low Post Defense

Although post players have their own defenders, post defense must be
considered a team responsibility, so young players should develop this.
In the first place, team defense to Diag. 60
defend the low post will depend on the
way the post is being defended by
his/her own defender.

If the low post is defended from

behind, help from teammates
should be in front (Diagram-60).
In this case, the helper should
anticipate the pass to the post,
either to prevent it, intercept it or to complicate the posts reception of
the ball.

If the post receives the ball, the Diag. 61

defenders of the perimeter play-
ers should be ready to help. This
help may be full help (double-
team help) or mid-help.
When the perimeter defenders
double-team the post, he/she will
tend to pass the ball to his/her
open perimeter teammate; then,
rotation of other defenders will Diag. 62
be needed to stop the open
perimeter offensive players

When the perimeter defenders

play mid-help they will be
in mid-way between the post
and their perimeter offensive
players, seeing both, ready to react either way (Diagram-62).

Thus, if the post passes the ball back outside, these defenders should
react to defend their perimeter players; on the contrary, if the post
decides to play 1 on 1 to score, they should fully help inside. In this
case, if the post dribbles they should try to deflect the ball. They must
help inside without fouling, for the purpose of either stealing the ball
or, in most cases, to complicate the posts shot.

Diag. 63

If the low post is being defended

three-quarter fronting or in front,
then the help must come from

the teammates on the help side (Diagram-63). In this situation,

if the attacker at the wing is
not strong playing 1 on 1, the defense may deny the pass to the guard,
so the wing may be forced to perform a lob pass to the low

I n

case, help-side players should be

alert in order to anticipate the lob Diag. 64

Diag. 65

Usually, help
should come
from the
nearest the
baseline, and
rotation will
be needed to
d e f e n d
h i s / h e r

To prevent this help, some offenses do not place a player at the oppo-
site low post spot; team defense should be prepared to defend
despite this.

* For example: defense may play as is shown in Diagram-65.

The defender of the high post stays half-way between his/her pla-
yer and the low post, so he/she can react in either direction.
He/she must learn to anticipate the intention of the player with the
ball, and react as soon as possible either to help the pass to the low
post or to defend his/her player if he/she receives. Likewise, the
defender of the guard above the extended free throw line, may help
the possible pass to the high post by covering the passing lane, so
he/she will be helping his/her teammate to help the low post.

Talking in Defense

This is a very important aspect in building team defense. Unfortunately,

many coaches realise this so but do not work on developing this aspect.
Talking in defense is essential for defenders to communicate concerning rel-
evant points, such as screens, cuts, helps, shots, etc. However, it is not enough
to tell the players they must talk.
The coach must specify the situations in which talking should take place,
decide the precise words to be said, and specify who should be the player to
say those words.
Players can not use long sentences; instead they need short key words,
meaning of which should be understood by the whole team. For example:
left screen! may be enough to alert a teammate to this situation.
Afterwards, key words should be included within practice as one of the
performance goals to be achieved.

* For example: the coach may design a 4 on 4 drill to practise

team defensive concepts. He/she should include not only the
correct moves, but also the key words significant to that drill.
He/she may even utilise a reward system to reinforce the use of key
words. For instance, every time a player uses the correct key word
at the right situation, his/her team gets an extra point.

Practical Exercise
Make a list of key words that you might include within
your defense, specifying the precise situation for those
words to be used and the player responsible for saying.

Diag. 66

Zone Defense
15-18 year-old players have to learn
to play zone defense too. At 15-16, it
will be enough to start with one simple
alignment (2-1-2, 2-3) to teach the play-
ers how to adapt the defensive funda-
mentals to a zone structure.
At this age, 2-1-2 or 2-3 are the most advisable alignments for three rea-

they are very simple, so players can assimilate basic moves very quick-
they have the same structure (four outside players) as the one reco-
mmended for developing team defense (remember all 4 on 4 situations
mentioned above), so the players can easily apply all the defensive con-
they are the most common alignments, so the team can use them to
improve both
Diag. 67
defense and offense.

Key Points
At this age, the most
important thing is
that young players

understand that playing zone defense Diag. 68

does not mean making less effort or
having less individual responsibility.
Thus, the role of the coach is not just
to teach the basic moves in the zone,
but to clearly point out the specific
responsibilities for each position.

Who should stand in front of the

player with the ball?
Diag. 69
Who should stop the penetration
of the dribbler from every posi-
Who should help and recover?
Who should help the helper?
Who should rotate?
Who should cover the inside
Diag. 70
passing lanes in every position?
Who should help inside if the
high or the low post get the ball?
Who should stop the attackers
from cutting from every position?
Who should stop each shot?
Who should block out the
rebound? Diag. 71

These questions should be

answered by the coach and then made
clear to the players. Furthermore, the
coach should observe the individual
functioning of each player to detect
individual deficiencies and correct
Diag. 72

Specific Concepts
The task of the coach when teaching
zone defense is to adapt defensive con-
cepts to a zone structure. Nevertheless
he/she must work specifically on the
following aspects.

Players defending in front of the zone must decide who gets the guard
with the ball, since probably this player will stand in the middle of the two
defenders (Diagram-66).
Then, the defender behind the one who goes to stop the player with the
ball must be very alert and move slightly forward, since probably the
pass will go to his/her side (Diagram-66).
The coach has to establish the limit between the area in which the offen-
sive player at the wing must be defended by the defender in front, and the
area in which this player must be defended by the defender at the back.

* For example: the coach might establish this limit as an imagi-

nary line from the top of the dotted semicircle of the paint
(Diagram-67). Above this imaginary line, the defender in front
would be the one responsible for stopping the wing player; below
this line the one responsible would be the defender at the back.

This means that, if the pass goes to a wing player who is above this line,
the back defender should help until his/her teammate arrives, and then
recover his/her position, whereas the defender in the middle helps the
helper, and the other front defender covers the inside pass to the high
post area (Diagram-68).
Thus, while the two defenders at the strong side are playing wide (the
front defender to reach his/her new position coming from the top to
the wing; and the back defender helping his/her teammate) the defend-
er in the middle and the help-side front defender must cover the inside pass-
ing lanes (Diagram-69).
On the contrary, if the pass from the guard to the wing goes below the
line established, then the back defender should take care of that player,
and the front defender should move backwards to cover inside passing
lanes (Diagram-70).
When the ball returns from the wing to the top, there are two possibil-
if the back defender is with the wing, then the front defender at the
strong side, should be the one to move out (Diagram-71);

if the front defender is with Diag. 73

the wing, then the other front
defender should be the one to
move out; in this case, the
front defender who was with
the wing player must move
quickly inside to cover the
inside passing lane (Diagram-
The players have to learn to antic- Diag. 74
ipate the next offensive pass, so they
are ready to move as soon as the
ball leaves the hands of the pass-
The players should always
remember to move with the ball
instead of behind it.
The players should learn to move Diag. 75
using the proper footwork, always
looking at both the ball and the
offensive player who might be
their next responsability.
When they move from one posi-
tion to another, it is important
that they learn to use their arms to
cover possible passing lanes, since
most of the dangerous passes Diag. 76
take place while the defenders
are moving. This way they will
manage to delay passing until
they are settled.

This is especially important

for the defender who comes
out to defend the player
with the ball; and also for Diag. 77
the player who moves back
from defending the ball to
cover the inside passing
lanes. The coach should be
especially alert with the lat-
ter, since young players
tend to move back late.

The player defending the attacker with the ball is responsible for stopping
this players dribbling penetrations. Teammates next to him/her are
responsible for helping if this happens.
Help-side players should learn to stop cutting by placing their body in
the pathway of the cutter, so the cut will not be carried out in the best
pathway to receive the ball.
The defenders at the back should front the low post (not stay behind).
They will take care of the low posts cutting until the middle of the
paint; then the other back defender will take care of the low post. The
defender in the middle will cover, as much as possible, the passing
lanes to the low posts, and will help his/her back defender teammates
when necessary.
The defender at the middle and the two defenders at the back should
block out the rebound at the positions near the hoop. Front defenders
should block out at the high post area, blocking out the high post play-
er every time they can.

All these concepts should be progressively developed through appropri-
ate drills, using a whole-part method of Diag. 78
teaching. That is, combining drills in
which the whole zone is played (5 on 5)
with drills in which just a part of the
zone is practised.
For example: a drill to practise
the moves of the two front pla-
yers (Diagram-73). The offensive
wings should move between
both sides of the limit line. They
can neither shoot nor penetrate if
they are below that line. Offense
can not shoot until they give at
least four passes. Front defensive
players should move according
to concepts explained above.
Another drill, now to practise the
moves of the front and the back
defenders (Diagram-74).

Diag. 79 Diag. 80

The next drill also includes the help-side front defender (Diagram-75).

The next drill includes the four outside defenders (Diagram-76).

A drill with the strong side front and back defenders, and the defend-
er in the middle (Diagram-77).
5 on 5 drills to practise whole zone defense.

Diag. 81 Diag. 82

All these concepts may be proper-

ly developed during the 15-16 year-old
period; then, at the 17-18 year-old peri-
od, they should be improved.
Likewise, at the 17-18 year-old period,
coaches may teach other zone align-
ments such as 1-3-1, 1-2-2 or 3-2,
match-up zones, and mixed zones
such as box and one, diamond and
one or triangle and two.

Press Defense
In general, at these ages, coaches
should not spend much time on devel-
oping specific press defense.
Working with 15-16 year-olds, the
coach may practise man to man
press using basic team defensive con-
cepts (help and recover, rotation, etc.)
and, of course, basic individual funda-

mentals. Diag. 83

At this point, the coach can not take

time from other basketball contents
which should have a higher priority, so
it will be enough to use man to man
press as an opportunity to develop
defensive skills, without spending time
improving specific aspects.
Later, working with 17-18 year-olds,
these specific aspects may be worked
on specifically.

Positioning and Moving

The coach may organise drills to
improve positioning and moving of all
players. He/she should pay special
attention to the players far from the ball
In this case, the players back should
be oriented to the middle vertical line
of the court (imaginary line; see
Diagram-78), so he/she can see both the ball and his/her offensive play-
Likewise, the further the player is from the ball, the longer the distance
between him/her and his/her attacker. Thus, this distance should be redu-
ced as the player with the ball approaches (Diagram-79), although at a
lesser speed, so at some point the defender might be able to jump onto
the player dribbling (Diagram-80).
Defenders far from the ball must be ready to react to a long pass to their
attackers, so they can intercept the ball or, at least, be there to defend the
player. They should also learn to anticipate long passes and run quickly
backwards, without losing sight of the ball, as soon as the ball leave.
These defenders should learn to change their position every time either
the ball or their attacker changes.
It is important as well that they anticipate the move of the ball to be
ready to help and rotate.
They should also practise stopping their attacker cutting to the ball, since
this may be an offensive strategy.


The coach may also work on double-team technique and strategy. Who

should double-team? How should he/she double-team?

* For example: if the dribblers defender stops him/her, the dou-

ble-team may come from behind the dribbler (Diagram-81), but if

the dribbler have overcome his/her defender slightly, the double-

team may come from the front (Diagram-82).

When the two players set the double-team, they must make sure that

the dribbler does not pass through the middle, so they should work to

develop this skill.

Likewise, players should learn to double-team without fouling

(a common mistake of young players is fouling while they double-


Once the dribbler picks the ball, the purpose of the players making up

the double-team should not be to steal the ball, but to force a bad pass or

a five-second violation. Thus, they do not need to touch the attacker, just

to cover passing lanes with their arms, so that passing is difficult.


The other three defenders should learn to rotate, to take advantage of

their teammates double-team (Diagram-83).

Other Aspects
The coach should also decide, and work on, what the players will do if
the other team uses screens. In general, switching is a good strategy at
the front court, and sometimes also at the back court. Whichever is
used, the players should work on this through specific drills.
Furthermore, the 17-18 year-olds coach may decide to include specif-
ic press defenses, such as run and jump or zone-press defenses at dif-
ferent places (full court, half-court, etc.).

Obviously he/she should assess if his/her players are ready to per-

form those defenses, and if they are not, it would be a waste of time work-
ing on them instead of developing the defensive concepts that the players
In any case, it is not advisable for the coach to try to build up different
kinds of press defenses, since this will probably confuse the young players.
Diag. 84
Advanced Defense Strategy
With 17-18 year-olds, the coach
should continue to strengthen basic
defensive individual fundamentals as
well as the basic concepts of team
defense. Furthermore, if the team is
ready, he/she can work on more com-
plex aspects of defense, such as press defense, mixed zones, etc., and also
defensive combinations that make up part of advanced defensive strategy.

* For example: he/she might develop different ways to defend

one-pass away from the ball (denying versus floating) and teach
his/her players to use each alternative depending on the global
defensive strategy of the game.

* The same thing might be done regarding post defense. If pla-

yers develop different ways of defending the post, they may learn
to combine these, depending on the circumstances. Thus, the coach
might decide to play a game with players defending the low post
behind, and then change at half-time or in a time-out, to defending
in front.

* The coach may also teach his/her team to use alternative de-
fenses; this is switching from man to man defense to zone defense,
from zone to man to man, from one kind of zone to another kind,
etc. For example, he/she may work on switching to a 2-1-2 zone
after shooting a free throw or to defending out-of-bounds plays.

This kind of learning should be part of the 17-18 year-old players bas-
ketball development. However, it is obvious that this will be a very difficult
objective if the players have not gone through the appropriate progressive
learning process in previous years.
Therefore, the coach of 17-18 year-olds has to make a realistic assessment of
his/her teams current capabilities in order to decide the extent to which the
players are ready to work advanced defensive strategy. He/she will probably
need to spend most of his/her time to improving and strengthening basic
individual and team defensive concepts, and in some cases he/she will be able
to spend some time working on complex aspects related to advanced strate-

Fast-Break and Transition

Basketball players should play fast-
break from the beginning. Coaches
should not prevent young players
from fast-freaking, since this is fun for
the players and helps them to develop
most basketball fundamentals.
During the 15-18 year-old period,
fast-break fundamentals should be
assessed by the coach, who should work
to improve all deficiencies that he/she
may find. The following are some of the
aspects that usually need to be

Outlet Pass
The coach may find problems such as the rebounder turning incorrectly
t o
Diag. 85 Diag. 86

the sideline (using a wrong or unbalanced position of his/her body, or wrong

position of the ball) or the guards opening late or badly to the sideline (wrong
area, wrong body position).
Diag. 87 Diag. 88

The defensive rebounder must turn to the sideline on the same side from
which he/she got the rebound, facing the nearest corner of the court;
he/she should turn slighty in the air as he/she moves down, so that
he/she lands in the right position to quickly perform the outlet pass. A
balanced stop when landing from the rebound is crucial to performing
a good pass.
Young right-handed players usually have problems turning properly
at the left side (since the outlet pass should be performed mainly with
the left hand), and the opposite happens to left-handed players.
The rebounder should land with the ball well protected, far from offensive
rebounders. By extending his/her arms, he/she should find a free pass-
ing lane for the outlet pass.
The guard should move to the proper spot at the sideline just as he/she
see his/her teammate catching the ball in the air. The coach must decide
on the spot he/she wants for the outlet pass. A common idea is the
extended free throw line. Some young guards tend to approach the
rebounder to get the ball. This reduces the chances of the fast-break,
since it is important to gain some meters with the outlet pass.
Thus, the guard should move to the extended free throw line, with
his/her back to the sideline, and wait there for the pass. Only if there is
no free passing lane can he/she move to the baseline or to the middle
to get the pass.
Specific drills may be designed to develop all aspects involved in the
outlet pass. First without opponents. Later, with a defender on the
rebounder (Diagram-84). Later, adding a defender on the guard.

Guards Play
Some young guards need to improve their skills when receiving the out-
let pass. Two common mistakes are: turning to face the sideline, thus losing
sight of the whole court; and bouncing the ball as they catch it without look-
ing ahead first (some guards look ahead while bouncing the ball).

Guards must learn to turn with their backs to the sideline. As they turn,
they should move their heads up to have a wide view of the whole court,
so they can rapidly assess the situation and decide whether to pass for-
ward to a teammate who has a clearly advantageous position, dribble
quickly to the middle lane, or stop the Fast-Break.
This rapid assessment should be made without bouncing the ball, just tak-
ing one second to look around and decide.

When dribbling to the middle, they should learn to use a long bounce
to begin with, using the hand furthest from the sideline (many young
guards only use their stronger hand, losing opportunities to fast-break
when this hand is not the appropriate).
Obviously all of the guards skills should be assessed and improved when
necessary. For example, their dribbling and passing ability while moving to
the front court, the decisions made at the end of the fast-break, etc.

Rebounder Dribbling the Ball Forward

This is a valuable resource to be developed with young players, so that
when they get a long rebound, or they see the middle lane open for them,
they can dribble forward rapidly to begin the fast-break.

Coaches need patience to develop this skill, since tall young players
may make many mistakes at the beginning. However future benefits make
this investment worthwhile.

Running the Fast-Break

Many times, young teams do not run the fast-break because the players
do not start out at the right moment. A common mistake is to wait until the
guard catches the outlet pass, but by then, it is too late to run.

Players who are neither catching the rebound nor guarding, must run for-
ward quickly, as soon as they see their rebounder teammate catch the ball.
First of all they should run quickly to the nearest free lane without watch-
ing the ball, then, at about half-court, turn their heads to see the ball.
In general, they must take the nearest free sidelane. If the nearest is not
free, they must take the other sidelane; if this is not free either, they may
take the midlane in front of the guard (obviously the last point will
depend on the fast-break structure that the coach has designed for his/her

Diag. 89 Diag. 90

End of the Fast-Break

The coach must decide how he/she wants his/her team to end the fast-break,
and work on this with his/her players.
15-16 year-old teams should have simple endings, easy situations of
Diag. 91 Diag. 92

superiority (1 on 0, 2 on 1, 3 on 1, 3 on 2, 4 on 2, 4 on 3), keeping the

players in their own lanes Diag. 93
(Diagrams-85 and 86).
17-18 year-old teams may develop
more complex transition moves to
link the fast-break and the set
offense (as an example see
Diagrams-87 and 88).
Fast-Break from a Steal
Many fast-breaks begin with a steal
of the ball. Therefore, it is important to organise and to practise this situation.
If the player stealing the ball is in an advantageous position, he/she
Diag. 94 should dribble rapidly to the other
If he/she is not in an advantageous
position, he/she may take a second
to move his/her head up to assess
the whole picture; then decide
either to pass to a teammate, drib-
ble forward, or stop the fast-break.
The other four players must move
rapidly. The guard should find a
free passing lane while moving to
the sideline nearest to the ball. The
other three, should run to take the
free lanes of the fast-break.
The coach may use many defensive drills to practise fast-break after a

Diag. 95 Diag. 96

steal. He/she may also organise specific drills.

Diag. 97
* For example: 3 on 3, 4 on
4, or 5 on 5; all players at one
end, placed as decided by the
coach at the ball and the help
side. The coach makes a
wrong pass or throws the ball
to the floor. The defenders
must play a quick fast-break.

Diag. 98

Practical Exercise
Organise three drills
to practise specific
aspects of defense
and fast-break when
the defensive team
recovers the ball.

Diag. 99

Man to Man Offense

The team offense, both man to man
offense and zone offense, should be
closely linked to the development of
offensive tactical decisions and offen-
sive individual fundamentals. A very
common mistake of coaches working
with 15-18 year-old players is that they teach their players a series of set
offenses that the players learn as automatons. This means that the players
know where they should move, but do not master the tactical decisions and

technical fundamentals involved in each move, thus performing these badly.

The result of this is, for example, a 15-16 year-old team with a nice set
offense that includes screens, but players unable to perform those screens
properly (incorrect stopping, unbalanced body stance, moving and fouling,
wrong decisions, etc.). Or a 17-18 year-old team with a beautiful set offense
t o

play with the low post, but players unable to see and to successfully perform
the inside passes needed.
All this seems very obvious; however many coaches still spend most of
their training time teaching set offenses that their young players are not able
to perform correctly.
Therefore, keeping this in mind, coaches should decide what kind of
offense may be more appropriate for their teams. As an example, some ideas
will be explained in the following paragraphs.

Basic Offense for 15-16 Year-Olds

Diag. 100 Diag. 101


With 15-16 year-olds, it may be Diag. 102

appropriate to set an offense with four
outside players facing the basket and
just one inside player playing back-
wards. Furthermore, it is advisable that
no player is limited to playing back-
wards, so all can play facing the basket
and some of them (if possible all except
the shortests) can also play backwards.

Diag. 103 Diag. 104

Diag. 105

Diag. 106 Diag. 107


Diag. 108 Diag. 109

All players need many Diag. 110

opportunities to play facing
the basket, so they can
develop all basic offensive
fundamentals. At this age,
they are just beginning to
learn how to play back-
wards, so less opportunities
are needed for them to prac-
tise this position.
Further, they need enough room to drive inside for lay-ups as
well as enough room inside to play with the post without too
much traffic.
Using this pattern, players will also have many opportunities to
develop basic tactical decisions.
To build up team defense, a 4 on 4 structure of outside players is
excellent at this age. Therefore, an offense with 4 outside players
will help to build up team defense and will benefit from better
defense as well.

As an example, Diagrams-89 and 90 show a pattern that may be appro-

pri- Diag. 111 Diag. 112

ate for 15-16 year-olds. As we can observe in Diagram-90, this pattern devel-
ops 3 on 3 play with a low post, and off-ball screens, as well as other options that
may be added progressively (for example, pick and roll).
A few rules may be established to favour the options of this play.
Diag. 113 Diag. 114

Diag. 115
Every time a player at the posi-
tion of one of the guards passes
the ball to either side, he/she will
move away to screen all the out-
side players at the other side
(Diagrams- 91 and 92).

Later, another option could be

added: when the guard opposite to the post passes to the wing, he/she
will screen to the post; then his/her teammates will replace him/her
Every time a player at the guards positions can not receive the ball
because he/she is well defended, he/she must move away to screen all
the outside players at the other side (Diagram-94).

Because of these rules, the positions and the moves of the players provide
many options that should be developed through specific work on decision
making and individual fundamentals.

The wing player at the posts side Diag. 116

may use the post to get open
(Diagram-95). The wing player at
the opposite side may try to play
back door if his/her defender
denies the pass (Diagram-96).

Players may use change of direction

with change of speed to get good
passes (Diagram-97).

Off-ball screens provide many opportunities. For example, in Diagram-

98 the player who is screened Diag. 117
(player-5) fakes a move to the bas-
ket to move the attention of
his/her defender away from the
screen; however, he/she sees the
opportunity to change speed and
then to receive the pass near the

Another example may be seen

in Diagram-99. In this case the screener (player-5) takes advantage of a
defensive switch: he/she pivots and steps into the paint to get the pass.

As in the last example, if defense switches to defend off-ball screens,

players may learn to take advantage of this depending on the mismatch
produced by the switch. Thus, players with a height advantage may
learn to post, whereas players with a height disadvantage may learn to
move out.
These moves provide many opportunities for 1 on 1 plays, so the play-
ers can develop 1 on 1 decisions and fundamentals.
These moves also provide the opportunity to play against help and
recover defense. Thus, every time the dribbler penetrates and gets help
from another defender, he/she may learn to look for the open teammate.

Advanced Concepts for 17-18 Year-Olds

With 17-18 year-olds other concepts may be introduced. At this age play-
ers can learn to play with two inside players (either two low posts, two high
posts, one low post and one high post). As an example, these players may
work on plays that include concepts such as the following.

Screen for the Screener (Diagrams-100 and 101). In this case, the player
who screens is then inmediately screened by another teammate, so the
player with the ball has two consecutive options to pass.
Series of Screens for a Shooter (Diagrams-102, 103 and 104). These are two
or three screens in a row to allow Diag. 118
a shooter to get free and get the
pass to shoot or play 1 on 1. The
screeners may learn to ask for the
pass themselves if the defenders
switch or help. The screened play-
er must learn to read the
defense, so as to take advantage of
the situation.

Double Screens (Diagrams-105, 106

Diag. 119
and 107). Two players stand side
by side to set a screen. They must
learn to read the defense, so
they can ask for the pass when
their defenders help or switch.

Blind Screens (Diagrams-108 and 109). The screen comes from behind
the defender, so he/she can not see the screener. This screen is efficient
for screening defenders whose attention is so intensively focused in
front of them, that they are not alert to the screen. For example, to
screen defenders of players who have just passed the ball (Diagram-
108) or defenders denying the pass (Diagram-109).

Pick and Roll with a triangle at the help side (Diagram-110). Players should
already know how to play pick and roll. Now they can play pick and
roll with a triangle at the help side. The two players at the pick and roll
(players 1 and 4) can play this with plenty of space. If help comes from

the help side, the ball may be Diag. 120

passed to the open teammate.
This set makes defensive help
very difficult, but offensive play-
ers have to master all the deci-
sions and fundamentals involved
in this play.

Cuts off the High Post Screens

(Diagrams-111 and 112). Guards
may cut off the high post just Diag. 121
after the ball goes below the
extended free throw line, before
the defenders move to float.
Timing is very important, espe-
cially if the cutter comes from the
help side (as in Diagram-112).
These cuts may provide two
passing opportunities: one to the
cutter, and one to the high post if
he/she steps out slightly.

1 on 1 plays (Diagrams-113 and Diag. 122

114). In this case, one player has
plenty of room to play 1 on 1.
He/she must play to score him-
self/herself. However, it is likely
that help will come from other
defenders, so he/she should be
alert and ready to pass the ball to
the open teammate.

In the same way, teammates should learn to get open when their defenders
move to help. If defense helps using the inside defenders, and moves the out-
side defenders to help the helpers, inside offensive players (4 and 5) may screen
outside defenders to prevent them com- Diag. 123
ing back; then there will be a good
chance to pass to the perimeter players
(1 or 3) (Diagram-115).
Obviously, it is neither necessary nor
convenient for the coach to teach all
these moves to his/her 17/18 year-old
players. Rather, he/she should only
choose some of them to increase his/her

players knowledge, taking into account Diag. 124

the number of contents that players are
able to assimilate. Coaches have to keep
in mind that it is not enough to memo-
rize moves, but that players should
understand their meaning, master all
the decisions and fundamentals
involved, and practise enough to be
able to perform each move efficiently.

Diag. 125
Zone Offense
The same philosophy should be
applied in the case of zone offense. At
the age of 15-16, players should devel-
op some team concepts to attack the
zone, mastering the decisions and fun-
damentals involved. Later, at the age of
17-18, this learning process may be
completed by working on more concepts. The basics to attack the zone are
summarised in the following paragraphs.

Moving Defenders Out of their Position

This is a basic concept that should be taught to the players in first place.
The guard with the ball should
Diag. 126
move to a spot where he/she
force one of the front defenders to
move out of his/her zone position
Then he/she should take advan-
tage of this situation by passing
the ball to the wing on the same
side (Diagram-116).
The wing teammate should stand Diag. 127
in a spot that force the defender
at the back to move out of his/her
zone position when the wing play-
er get the pass from the guard
The low post should move to a
spot that force the defender in the

middle to move out of his/her zone Diag. 128

to help the defender at the back
(Diagram-116). Some teams,
especially 15-16 year-olds, may
decide to play with a false low
post; thus, the player initially
placed in that position would
open to the corner as soon as the
back defender moves up to stop
the teammate at the wing.
These moves will provide good chances for the wing and the low post
to shoot the ball unless the defenders move out of their positions. If this
happens, there will be good opportunities to
pass the ball inside to the player at the high post. This player should learn
to move down to find a passing lane to receive the ball (Diagram-117).
A common mistake of young players at the high post is cutting down
as automatons, so that they have no chance to get the pass. Instead, they
should step to the proper spots (the free passing lanes) to get the ball.
Likewise, the players at the wing and at the low post (and also the
guard when the ball returns) should learn to see, just before they receive
the pass, if a defender is coming to take them; if not, they should look
for their own shot; if a defender
Diag. 129
comes, they should know which
side he/she comes from, to focus
on attacking on that side.
Also, just before receiving the ball,
outside players should look for
the possibility of passing the
ball inside, since the best oppor-
tunities to pass inside come
when the defenders move from
one position to another. By doing this, outside players will be able to
pass inside as soon as they Diag. 130
receive the ball, before the
defense is set in the new posi-
A common mistake of young play-
ers attacking the zone is to move and to
move the ball without thinking, not
provoking defenders to move out of
their positions, not passing according to
the weak points of the defense, and not
looking for the opportunity to pass the ball inside.

Penetrating Inside
Another common mistake against the zone is not using dribbling to pen-
etrate inside. However, this is a valuable resource to be developed with young

Players may learn to penetrate when the defender who is moving to stop
them comes late, especially when the ball has changed from one side to
the other (Diagram-118).

Then, they should learn to decide according to the defenders reactions.

Sometimes, they should just dribble once or twice to stop for a jump-shot
at the border of the paint before the big defender in the middle can stop
them. Other times, if they attract help from other defenders, they may
look for a pass to a teammate who is open (Diagram-119). This move
could provide good opportunities for outside shooters.

Playing With the High Post

Diag. 131 Diag. 132

We mentioned above how outside

players should be alert to pass the high
post when he/she cuts inside.
Likewise, it is interesting to use the
high post player while moving the ball,
to create problems for the zone defense.
Two examples.

In Diagram-120, the guard drib-

bles to the wing, thus bringing
with him/her the front defender
on that side. Then the high post
opens slightly and receives the
pass. He/she can shoot unless a
defender comes to stop him/her.
In this Diagram, the help-side
front defender takes the post, so
the post can take advantage of
the weakness of the defense on
that side by passing the ball to
the wing.

Diag. 131 Diag. 132

This will provide the wing with the opportunity to shoot unless either
the back defender or the front defender (this defender moving very
quickly) is able to stop him/her. If he/she can not shoot he/she may
take advantage of the defenders moves to either pass to the low post,
pass to the high post as he/she cuts
to the free passing lane (Diagram-
121) or penetrate dribbling (remem-
ber Diagram-118).

The second example is in Diagram-

122. The player at the wing (here,
player-3) may look for the pass to
the high post when he/she is
defended by the front defender. In
this case, the high post must learn
to move to the corner of the free
throw line to complicate help from
the other front defender. Then, as
soon as he/she receive the ball
he/she may shoot or, if a defender
comes to take him/her, pass to the





1 In general, practising sports is a healthy activity, but not neces-

sarily. Sports can be harmful if practised incorrectly. For this rea-
son, the coachs role is essential in making the practise of sports

2 There will always be injuries, but the coach can reduce this risk if
he/she programmes and directs his/her players sports activities

3 Basketball provides young players with the opportunity to devel-

op healthy habits; for example, good eating habits, hygiene habits
and self-care habits.

4 The acquisition of a reasonable commitment is essential for sports

to have educational value.

5 Basketball provides an excellent opportunity for young players to

learn to work as a team and accept their individual responsibili-
ties within the context of the group. The coach should take advan-
tage of this opportunity by strengthening both aspects: team work
and individual responsibility.

6 Basketball should help young players to learn to respect their

opponents. The coach should never allow his/her players to
develop feelings of dislike or hostility towards rivals.

7 Young players should learn to respect referees and the coach

should be their role model. Therefore, it is not appropriate for the
coach to protest the referees decisions.

8 Competition is an educational tool that should be used accord-

ingly. The players should learn to compete, win and lose. If a com-
petition cannot be won and the coach decides to withdraw, he/she
is throwing away an excellent educational opportunity.

9 The coach is a highly significant model for his/her young players;

therefore, he/she should behave accordingly. The coach should
show respect and solidarity towards all of his/her players, their
opponents, and the referees, because this sets an excellent exam-
ple for his/her players.

10 Without doubt, basketball can be a very valuable educational

experience for young players but in order to be so, it is essential
that managers and coaches behave appropriately.

1 The coach can significantly improve his/her players psycholog-
ical resources if he/she keeps this in mind when organising and
directing his/her teams activity.
2 Young players cognitive development will benefit from an appro-
priate presentation of basketball training drills.
3 In general, monotonous training sessions do not provide sufficient
stimulation to develop the attentional capacity of young players.
For this reason, the coach should avoid this type of training.
4 The perception of control is essential in the formative process of
young players. Among other measures, the coach can develop the
perception of control related to the results that his/her players
achieve by their behaviour. This way, the players perceive that
they can control the results of their own behaviour.
5 Experiences of controlled success are produced when positive
results are attributed by the players to their own controllable
behaviour, instead of to external factors or to behaviour over
which they have little control. Such experiences are especially
important in strengthening self-confidence.
6 Experiences of controlled failure are produced when the results
obtained are not favourable but the players perceive that, with
their behaviour, they have controlled the process of attempting to
achieve the desired results; besides, they have learned something
valuable for the future. Combined with experiences of controlled
success, experiences of controlled failure can be very valuable
in strengthening young players self-confidence.
7 Understanding what has to be done enhances the perception of
control. Therefore, by explaining exactly what the task is, the coach
will help his/her players to increase their perception of control.
8 Posing challenges that the players consider attainable helps build
enough self-confidence to attempt to achieve these challenges. By
meeting challenges, the players strengthen their self-confidence
for the future. Therefore, it is very important for the coach to pose
challenges that the players can achieve in order to strengthen their
9 When a young players perception of himself/herself (self-con-
cept) and self-esteem depend, to a large degree, on his/her suc-
cess in sports, he/she will be extremely vulnerable emotionally.
Under such conditions, it is likely that sports activities will be very
stressful for the players, increasing the risk of low performance,
injury and occasionally, other negative effects on their health and
psychological development. For this reason, the coach working
with young players should do whatever he/she can so that
his/her young players self-concept and self-esteem do not
depend on their success in the field of sports.
10 The coachs comments can influence his/her young players self-
concept and self-esteem; therefore, he/she should be very careful
in this respect, avoiding comments that weaken the players self-
concept and self-esteem, and using others that strengthen them.



1 True Meeting attractive challenges is one of the most

rewarding experiences for young players.
Therefore, this should be used quite frequently in
their sports activities.

2 False Some players have more self-control than others,

but all of them can improve this capacity if the
coach takes advantage of opportunities that arise
during training sessions and games. The coach
should try to bring about an improvement in
his/her players self-control instead of assuming
that they will improve by themselves.

3 False Having fun is a very positive experience for any

basketball team, not just for mini-basketball

4 False Early specialization does not increase a players

chances of making top-class professional teams in
the future. In fact, in most cases it limits the pla-
yers possibilities.

5 False Coaches working with young players should not

imitate top-class coaches but adopt their own
working style, bearing in mind the formative
aims these teams should have.

6 True Control experiences are very important for any pla-

yer but especially for young players. Therefore, a
coach who works with young players should pro-
voke many control experiences for his/her players.

7 True A coach working with young players should treat

all of his/her players with dignity and respect,
never insulting them, underrating them or
making fun of them.

8 False A coach is a basketball expert, but when working

with young players he/she should assume
his/her educational responsibilities, which are
complementary to those of teachers and parents.



1 Intra-group Outcome Goal.

2 Intra-subject Outcome Goal if for one

player or Intra-group Outcome Goal if
for the whole team.

3 Performance Goal.

4 Performance Goal.

5 Performance Goal.

6 Inter-subject Outcome Goal.

7 Performance Goal.

8 Intra-subject Outcome Goal if for one

player or Intra-group Outcome Goal if
for the whole team.

9 Performance Goal.

10 Performance Goal.


1 True If the coach and the players jointly decide on the
players obligations, players learn to accept res-
ponsibility and their commitment is stronger.
2 False Working rules should be established from the out-
set because they favour the proper working of the
team and avoid many problems.
3 True The seasons macrocycle should be divided into
various periods called mesocycles. These, in turn,
should be divided into one-or two-week periods
called microcycles.
4 False Outcome goals and performance goals should be
correctly combined in order to maximize the
benefits that can be achieved by establishing
goals, so both are important. However, perfor-
mance goals are more useful because they refer to
the behaviour of the players themselves, and the-
refore, are more easily controlled. Besides which,
performance goals are the only way for the pla-
yers to influence outcome goals.
5 True Goals should be attractive so that the players are
motivated to achieve them, but at the same time
they should be realistic so that the players percei-
ve that they can achieve them and, in fact, they do.
6 True When planning the training session, the coach
should take into account the most appropriate
physical load for that.
7 False In general, volume should predominate over
intensity during the first weeks of the season.
8 False The coach should control the psychological load
of the training session, just as he/she controls the
physical workload or the technical and tactical
9 True Short drills prevent young players attentional
10 False For teams made up of young players (mini-bas-
ketball and 13/14 year-olds), the coach should not
adapt his/her training programme to preparing
for an upcoming game, nor is this appropriate for
teams of 15/18-year-olds for many games of the


1 False Before the training session, the coach should deci-
de on the goals for that session as well as the con-
tents and drills that are appropriate for achieving
those goals.
2 False Having a good time and following rules while
doing drills is not incompatible. In fact, the use of
appropriate rules helps a drill to be enjoyable.
3 False The antecedent stimuli of a drill are those which
are present in the drill. They are present before
players behaviours appear.
4 False When working with young players, both the
goals and the structure of drills should be varied.
5 True In general, related drills help make better use of
practice time.
6 True During training sessions, competitive drills can
be set up between players or groups of players as
well as between a player or a group against him-
self/herself or themselves.
7 False Competitive drills should not be done aimlessly;
it is important to control the goals and contents of
the drill.
8 False Learning drills should predominate in mini-bas-
ketball teams; specific game preparation is ina-
ppropriate in mini-basketball training.
9 False Attentional intensity should not be high during
all of the drills done during a practise session. The
coach should combine drills of greater and lesser
intensity throughout the session.
10 False Working in small simultaneous groups is a good
strategy because the players participate more and
they can assume greater individual responsibility.
11 True Among other procedures that can be used to con-
trol the training process, comparing work done in
the recent session with work previously pro-
grammed is simple and efficient.
12 True In general, it is a good idea to combine offense
and defense goals in order to make the most of
the training session.


1 False A player should never be ridiculed in front of
his/her teammates. Besides, this is not a good
strategy for motivating the players.
2 False In many cases, it is not enough to explain to the
players what they have to do for them to do it. It
is necessary to show them for them to understand
better, and to develop a training programme so
that the players learn to do what they should.
3 True The coach should assess and highlight players
behaviour more than results obtained.
4 True lite players can be good role models for young
players if the specific behaviour that they should
observe and try to imitate is emphasised.
5 False During training drills, the coach should concen-
trate only on the goals of that drill; therefore,
he/she should correct only those mistakes that
correspond to those goals and ignore the rest.
6 False Players do not learn more quickly (or better)
because the coach tells them constantly what they
have to do. The coach should use appropriate
strategies so that the players become mentally
involved in the drills.
7 True Performance recording is a very useful tool to
help the players concentrate on their behaviour.
8 True Feedback is a very valuable strategy in the lear-
ning process. Among other things, it allows pla-
yers, including very young ones, to control their
own progress.
9 False Reinforcement, both positive and negative, serves
to acquire behaviour. Negative reinforcement is
not to be confused with punishment.
10 True Reinforcement should be applied as soon as po-
ssible after the behaviour that the coach wants to
reinforce is produced.
11 True Social reinforcement is a very powerful tool when
working with young players. The coach should take
advantage of every opportunity to use it generously.
12 False Token economy is a highly efficient and appro-
priate strategy for teams of any age.
13 False The aim of punishment strategies is to eliminate
inappropriate behaviour such as, for example,
protesting the referees decisions or recriminating
a teammate.
14 True When applying punishment to eliminate certain
behaviour, reinforcement to strengthen alternati-
ve behaviour should be applied at the same time.



1 It is a good idea for the players to move quickly to the sideline or

the bench.

2 It is a good idea for the players to have a few seconds to drink

water and relax a bit before the coach starts to talk.

3 In general, the coach should be the only person to talk during


4 In general, telling the players off for mistakes made in previous

plays is not productive. Time-outs should be used constructively
to prepare the future of the game.

5 Reinforcing effective actions that the coach wants the players to

repeat is a good strategy.

6 It is not a good idea to speak quickly in order to say a lot. The

coach should accept that he/she cannot say everything. Therefore,
he/she should select the most important messages and transmit
them without rushing.

7 The coach should try to centre the players attention on the most
important behaviour for the upcoming period of active participa-

8 In general, it is not recommended that the coach remind the play-

ers to think of winning; rather, he/she should distract their atten-
tion from the score and centre it on behaviours that they can con-

9 It is not a good strategy to make fun of a player in order to pro-

voke a reaction and get him/her to play better. Besides, the effects
of this measure, beyond the game, can be very negative.

10 If the coach finds that he/she does not have enough time to say
everything he/she wants to the players, it is because he/she
wants to say too much and has not selected the most important

11 It is advisable that the coach end the time-out with a few words
of encouragement to his/her players.

1 The coach should have an objective, positive and constructive atti-
tude during the game. If he/she tends to notice negative aspects
more than positive ones, it would be a good idea for him/her to
think about this and change his/her attitude.
2 A coach who tends to get angry when his/her players make mis-
takes should think about this. Mistakes are part of the game and
the coach must learn to tolerate them and handle them with the
objective, positive and constructive attitude that should predom-
inate when he/she directs a game.
3 The coach should reinforce the players when they attempt correct
behaviour, even if they are not successful. This way, they will keep
on trying.
4 During a game, the coach should encourage players when they
make mistakes and get them to centre their attention quickly on
the task at hand.
5 A coach cannot asses his/her players performance based on the
final score.
6 The coach should let his/her players play without continuously
telling them what to do.
7 The coach should not insult or make fun of the players.
8 For reasons of strategy, the coach must take the score into account,
but he/she should also be capable of directing the game objec-
tively, regardless whether the score is favourable or unfavourable
to his/her team.
9 The coach who insults or protests to referees is a bad example for
young players.
10 It is a very good idea for the coach to transmit positive messages
to his/her players when directing a game.
11 Half-time should not be used to recriminate players for mistakes
made during the first half but to help them improve their perfor-
mance in the second half.
12 The coach should avoid making disapproving comments and ges-
tures to his/her players while coaching a game.
13 The coach should set an example to his/her young players by con-
gratulating the coach of the opposing team at the end of the game,
and he/she should teach them to do the same with their opponents.
14 At the end of the game, the players are not prepared to assimilate
the coachs comments. Therefore, it is not a good idea to organise
talks right after a game. Two or three days later, when everyone
is more relaxed, would be a better moment to explain whatever
he/she feels is important.

Antecedent Stimuli: 89 Changing Direction: 275, 290, 336
Key signal stimuli: 297, 298, 300, 302 Changing Speed: 274, 290, 336
Anticipate Difficulties: 130 Coachs Attitude Towards Basketball Games:
Coachs Behaviour: 102, 103
Assessment of offensive rebounding:
289 After the game: 145
Assessment of players performance Before the game: 129
during training sessions: 255 During half-time: 144, 146
Assessment of shooting technique: During the game: 132, 135, 138
267, 268
During training drills: 121
Half-time self-assessment: 146
Influence of coaches: 24
Athletic Development: 28
Recording coachs behaviour: 121, 122
Attention: 13, 95, 107, 132, 139, 301
Coaches Strategies for Training Sessions: 101
Attentional Intensity: 94
Coaches Working Style: 33
Attitude: 102, 126
Cognitive Development: 13
Aversive Stimuli: 120
Comments to the Players: 106, 131, 135, 136
Commitment: 4
Concentration: 12, 133, 145
Back Door: 335, 336 Confidence: 18
Base-Game Control: 14, 16, 145
1 on 1 base-game: 152 Measures to improve control: 16
2 on 2 base-game: 155 Self-control: 27
3 on 3 base-game: 157 Controlled Failure: 20
4 on 4 and 5 on 5 base-game: 157 Controlled Success: 20
Blocking Out: 232, 260 Contingency Management: 112
Body Balance: 272 Criteria for Making Tactical Decisions: 296
Body Stance: 271 Cycle: 47

D Contest drills: 258

Coordination: 167
Decision-Making: 280, 295, 307, 337
Defense: 216, 217, 222, 223, 226, 227,
Defense 232, 233, 236, 237, 242, 243, 248, 249,
Advanced defense strategy: 328 254, 323
Blocking out: 232 Defense and combination with drib-
bling, passing and shooting: 195
Defense elements: 242
Dribbling: 175, 210, 211
Defensive fundamentals: 216, 222,
226, 236, 248, 254 Dribbling and shooting: 184
Dribbling, passing and shooting: 192
Defense of screens: 315, 316
Drills with simple structure: 89
Distance and positioning: 232, 236,
248, 310 Duration of the drills: 94
Double Team: 232, 317, 326 Endurance: 171

Help: 312 Enjoyable drills: 93

Fast-Break: 220, 228, 244, 258, 260, 262
Practising defense: 222, 226
Joint mobility: 173
Press defense: 325
Lay-ups: 187
Rotation: 314
Leading drills: 103
Talking in defense: 319
Low posts moves: 293
Team defense concepts: 310
Mobility learning, adaptation and
Zone defense: 320 transformation and mobility control:
Passing: 188, 192, 212, 213, 234, 235-237
Athletic development: 28
Physical development: 159
Cognitive development: 13
Players participation: 95
Development of personal and social
values: 4 Rapid-strength: 172

Development of psychological re- Rebounding: 286

sources: 13 Related drills: 91
Educational development: 1 Respiratory education: 170
Disadvantage Situations: 230 Screening: 218, 224
Dribbling: 175, 184, 192, 195, 210 Shooting: 181, 184

Drills Spatial-temporal perception: 163

Spatial-temporal and dynamic differ-
Anticipation and choice: 174
entiation: 173
Attentional intensity of the drills: 94
Specific working rules: 90
Balance: 165 Speed: 172
Basketball fundamentals: 175 Structure: 89
Body pattern development: 159 Tactical decision-making: 299, 300,
Body orientation in space and late- 303, 305, 307
rality: 162 Test drills: 96
Competitive drills: 92 Training drills: 88

Varied drills: 90 Goals for the game: 130, 132

Zone defense: 323 Goals of the drill: 88
Double-Team: 232, 317, 326 Goals of the training session: 85, 86
Individual goals: 47, 48, 52, 54
Inter-group outcome goals: 47
8-9 Year-Olds: 150, 203 Inter-subject outcome goals: 47
Evaluation of the Training Session: 97 Intermediate goals: 50, 51
Execution vs. Decision-Making: 280 Intra-group outcome goals: 47
Intra-subject outcome goals: 47
Outcome goals: 46, 47, 51
Performance goals: 46, 48, 51, 54, 132
Elements of Fast-Break: 238, 329
Setting goals: 46, 57
Fast-Break fundamentals: 214, 250
Scheduling goals: 82
Fast-Break recording: 253
Team goals: 47
Practising Fast-Break: 220, 228, 244,
258, 260, 262 Goals and Plans for the Game: 130

Fast-Break and Transition: 329 Guards Play (fast-break): 330

Faking: 230, 272, 290, 293, 336

Feedback: 111, 117
15-16 Year-Olds: 31, 320, 325, 334, 347 Half-Time: 144
15-18 Year-Olds: 31, 69, 75, 265, 332, 334 Half-Time Self-Assessment: 146
Flashing: 254 Health Enhancement: 2
Footwork: 273, 292, 293 Help
Free Throws: 259, 347 Help and recover: 312
Fun: 28 Help to defend dribbling penetra-
tions: 312
G Help to defend inside passing: 314

Games: 72 Help to defend screens: 315

Coaches Behaviour: 125 Helping the helper: 313

15-18 Year-Old teams: 75 Helping Players Concentration: 133

Mini-Basketball teams: 72 Helplessness: 14

13-14 Year-Old teams: 74 High-Low Post Plays: 344

Goals High Post: 342

Chosing the most appropriate: 53

Collective goals: 48, 52
Efficient goals: 50, 52 Individual Needs: 266
Final goals: 50, 51 Individual Tactics: 212

Influence of Coaches: 24 Man to man offense: 333

Instructions to the Players: 106 Press offense: 346
Intensity: 62, 64, 80, 81 Set offense with screens: 228
Zone offense: 340
L Offensive Rebound: 281, 289
Lay-Ups: 187 One-Count Stop: 277
Leading Drills: 103 One on One Plays: 153, 262, 337, 340
Learning to Compete: 11 Organising the Team: 39
Legends to Follow Diagrams: 176, 209, 269 Organising Training Sessions: 83
Low Post Defense: 316 Orientative Practice Plans: 201
Low Post Moves: 288 6-7 Year-Olds: 201
8-9 Year-Olds: 203
M 10-12 Year-Olds: 204

Man to Man Offense: 333 Out-of-Bounds Plays: 347

Macrocycle: 44 Outlet Pass: 329
Mesocycle: 44, 45, 80
Microcycle: 44, 45, 81 P
Mini-Basketball: 149 Passing: 188, 192, 195, 212, 230, 234, 236,
Mini-Basketball players: 30 292, 299, 329
Mini-Basketball teams: 69, 72 Passing an Moving Away: 110
Mismatch: 336 Pauses: 135, 137, 139
Models Penetrating Inside: 342
Expert Models: 105 Perception of Control: 14, 79, 132

Mastery Models: 105 Periodization: 44

Modeling: 104, 145 Periods of Active Participation: 133, 135

Moving Around Court: 244 Perseverance: 4

Moving and Receiving: 277 Personal and Social Values: 4

Moving Defenders Out of their Position: 340 Personal Responsibility: 6

Moving Without the Ball: 269, 288 Physical Preparation: 266

Physical Work Load: 59
O Pivoting: 236, 336
Planning: 37
Concerning games: 72
Advanced concepts for 17-18 Year-
Olds: 337 Mesocycle planning: 45
Basic offense for 15-16 Year-Olds: 334 Microcycle planning: 45
Cooperation in offense: 256 Planning activities: 43

Players: 39 Players performance: 109, 110, 255

Players concentration: 133 Results of free throw contests: 259
Players obligations: 39 Screening recording: 76
Players participation: 95 Training session recording: 98
Positioning and Moving: 232, 244, 325 Weekly work recording: 99
Positive Experiences: 28 Reinforcement: 113, 115, 136, 138
Preparing for the Game: 129, 130 Negative reinforcement: 113
Press Defense: 325 Positive reinforcement: 113
Press Offense: 346 Social reinforcement: 116
Prompting: 136 Using reinforcement: 115
Psychological Load: 65, 80, 81 Reinforcers: 115
Characteristics of the psychological Reminders: 107
load: 65
Resources Available: 42
Deficient psychological load: 66
Respecting Others: 8
Productive psychological load: 67
Respecting the Rules: 8
Psychological overload: 67
Responsibility: 6, 38
Use of psychological loads: 68
Rest: 60, 70
Psychological Resources: 13
Rights (of young athletes): 2
Psychological Rest: 70
Punishment: 120 Rotation: 314

Negative Punishment: 113 Rules: 41, 299, 300, 303, 304, 305, 307

Positive Punishment: 113 Running: 275

17-18 Year-Olds: 33, 325, 328, 332, 337, 347
Questions: 107
Scheduling: 79

R Screens
Blind screens: 338
Rebound: 232, 281, 289
Cutts off the high post screens: 339
Receiving the Ball: 230, 277
Defense of screens: 315, 316
Double screens: 338
Coachs behaviour: 121, 122, 135
Pick and roll: 339
Fast-Break: 253
Screen for a shooter: 338
Frecuency of comments from coach:
Screen for the screener: 337
Screens against zone defense: 345
Frecuency of reinforcement from
coach: 138 Teaching Screens: 219, 224, 228
Free Throw contest: 259 Using Screens: 230

Screening: 218, 219, 279, 334, 335 Assessment of players performance:

109, 110
Frecuency of Screening: 76
Coachs behaviour: 122
Session (Practice Session): 44
Coaching strategies: 101
Self-Concept: 22
Self-Confidence: 18 Contents and drills: 85, 87

General self-confidence: 19 Evaluation: 97, 98, 99

Specific self-confidence: 19 Goals: 86

Self-Control: 27 Organising training sessions: 83, 85

Self-Esteem: 22 Stages of the training session: 84

Shooting: 181, 184, 192, 195, 267, 268, 285, Training session recording: 98
293 Working routines: 87
6-7 Year-Olds: 150, 201 Transition: 260, 332
Social Values: 4 Triple Threat: 208, 232
Solutions and Comments to Practical Exer-
Two-Count Stop: 277
cises: 349
Speed: 274
Stopping: 236, 277, 278
Strategies for Training Sessions: 101 Values (personal and social): 4
Volume: 62, 64, 80, 81
Tactical Decision-Making: 295, 296, 299, 300, W
302, 305, 306
Weekly Work Recording: 99
Target Behaviours: 107, 109
Work and Rest: 60
Team Defense Concepts: 310
Work Load: 59, 62, 80
Team Play: 310
Working Rules: 41, 90
Team Work: 7
Working Routines: 87, 140
10-11-12 Year-Olds: 152, 204
Working Style: 33
Test Drills: 96
13-14 Year-Olds: 30, 69, 74, 207
Time-Outs: 140
Token Economy: 117 Zone Defense
Training Contents: 56, 57, 58, 81 Specific concepts: 321
Training Drills: 88 Drills: 323
Training Session: 83 Zone Offense: 340